At last the weather held off and the third day of testing at the Algarve’s Portimao circuit in Portugal was able to offer the five teams present a chance to get some decent running in. Still driving the STR3 in largely 2008-mode, Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi topped the timing sheets as he pretty much has done since the season closed last November. With the advantage of running the ’08 car, Buemi lapped the track 1.8s faster than second placed driver Nico Rosberg. Sebastien managed a respectful 128 laps while Rosberg was the busiest driver of the day, completing 143 tours.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton returned to the cockpit today for the first time since winning the world championship in Brazil last November. The Briton managed 81 laps in the new MP4-24, and set the third quickest time of 1m30.242s, 0.5s shy of Rosberg in the FW31. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Hamilton though as the Mercedes engine shut itself down while on track after a safety feature activated without warning.
With the engines at an absolute premium this season, all teams are expected to utilise an automatic electronic shutdown system which should only kick-in if something potentially damaging to the unit is detected. Unfortunately for Hamilton, it decided to do exactly this today. However, Lewis was able to continue once the system had been reset, and was pleased with his first day back in the office.
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.
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.
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. Lewis Hamilton.
Timo Glock was present for Toyota and managed to cause a 30 minute delay when an oil pipe worked loose on his new TF109, resulting in the 2009 challenger to catch fire. The incident looked more serious than what it actually was, but the time lost for Glock meant he could only complete 63 laps.
The final position in the tables went to Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard testing the new Renault R29. Unfortunately, Alonso had his fair share of dramas as well, his Renault deciding to stop in the pitlane entry which ultimately led to the day ending a little earlier than planned as the stricken car was recovered.
|1.||Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m27.987s||128 Laps|
|2.||Nico Rosberg Williams||1m29.729s||143 Laps|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton McLaren||1m30.242s||81 Laps|
|4.||Timo Glock Toyota||1m30.878s||63 Laps|
|5.||Fernando Alonso Renault||1m31.743s||84 Laps|
Meanwhile in Mugello…
It rained. I have only one word for Ferrari. FAIL.
The Scuderia had pulled out of the public test in Portugal at the last minute, citing poor weather forecasts for the area this week (although rumours of car troubles continue to circulate). Instead, the team opted to test privately at their own track in Mugello.
By and large, Ferrari were correct and rain fell on both circuits for the first two days. However, as reported above, the Algarve basked in sunshine today while Felipe Massa moped around the Northern Italian track under an umbrella.
Despite the precipitation though, Massa completed an admirable 104 laps, setting a fastest time of 1m33.353s. This compares to team mate Kimi Raikkonen’s efforts from Monday and Tuesday of 1m34.430s and 1m33.920s respectively. Massa will continue to evaluate the F60 tomorrow, although the Brazilian is yet to try the machine on slick tyres and completely dry track.
Photo © Ferrari Spa.