JANUARY 21, 2009
New cars in action
The Algarve test is not something on which one can base predictions for the future, but the teams present will be beginning to understand which cars are fast and which cars are not. The times being set by Sebastien Buemi in the old Toro Rosso is not to be taken too seriously. It is the new cars that are important. And at the end of the first day of serious testing, the Williams was not only the fastest car but also completed a huge number of laps without drama. Nico Rosberg did 143 laps in the course of the day, and his best time came on lap 127. The time may not be very significant. It is hard to say at this point, but the reliability of the Williams straight out of the box is impressive.
The other new cars were only able to complete 85 laps (Renault), 81 laps (McLaren) and 64 laps (Toyota). Lewis Hamilton was the man at the wheel of the McLaren.
"It was good to be back working with the team - it felt like I'd hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine," Hamilton said. "Everything very quickly felt normal today."
The track was wet in the morning but in the afternoon dried and so the team were able to use slick tyres and the 2009 aero settings.
"This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers. It wasn't about setting a fast time," Hamilton said. "The car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car. It's going to be an extremely busy winter. With the limitations on testing during the season, and the few sessions we have over the next two months, this is going to be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team."
The Renault R29 ran on slicks in the dry as well.
"It is very early days with the new car and so we keep discovering things and improving our understanding with every lap," said Alonso. "There are so many things to learn in a short time and we need to maximise our time on track, so to do so many laps today was a good effort. The programme for tomorrow will be more of the same and hopefully the weather will remain dry."
Timo Glock was in action for Toyota.
"My first impression of the new car is good," he said. "I am happy with it. In the morning, on a wet track, I felt pretty comfortable and it was easy to drive; there were no real problems. Then we had the issue with the oil pipe which cost us some time but the guys worked really hard to repair the car and we got some laps at the end in dry conditions. Those first laps on a dry track felt pretty good and gave me a positive feeling but we didn't have time to really set the car up properly. It would be nice to do a lot more laps tomorrow but the weather forecast isn't very good."