MARCH 16, 2009
And so the final tests
Rubens Barrichello topped the timesheets at the end of the first day of running at the final pre-season test, taking place this week at Jerez de la Frontera. The Brawn-Mercedes driver completed 300 miles of running on Sunday, setting a best time of 1m19.236s. This is two-tenths slower than the best time of the last test, which was a 1m19.055s set by Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull but was still impressive for the first day of a test. Fernando Alonso was second quickest in his Renault but was six-tenths slower and the team lost a lot of time after the Spaniard made a mistake and crashed his car after just a handful of laps in the morning session. He returned to action late in the day. The only other car running on Sunday was the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg, who was two-tenths slower than Alonso. McLaren is also at the test but decided not to run until Monday. This will give the team a day on its own at the end of the test. The team has seemed to be in trouble in the last couple of weeks so it will be interesting to see what happens on that final day when all the very latest equipment is put on the car.
With the other teams now packing up and getting ready to send their freight out to Australia, it is possible to get some idea of the state of preparedness of the different teams. In official testing (not including any aerodynamic mapping work and shakedowns) BMW Sauber seems to have emerged on top of the mileage charts for the new cars with the F1.09 having run for an impressive 6000 miles since it was unveiled.
Panasonic Toyota Racing is not far behind with a total of 5650, while Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has done in the region of 5200. By the end of the Jerez test Williams will have raised its total to the same sort of level, having done 4100 miles before the final test began. McLaren too will lift its total further which is good news for the team as the total before Jerez was only 3500 miles. Renault too will improve on its 3400.
Red Bull Racing has finished its work with a total of 3100, which may sound a lot but is almost half of the BMW Sauber total. Late-starter Force India has to be satisfied with 2000 miles, while Brawn GP did 1245 at the Barcelona test and will end the Jerez test with around 2500 - if all goes to plan. Scuderia Toro Rosso, which did a great deal of winter work with the old STR3, managed only 900 miles with the new STR4.
Mileage and speed are, of course, different things, but the distance covered is a measure of the reliability of the cars - and an indication of the amount of time that has been lost trying to sort out problems.