F1

Glock, Toyota top wet test in Jerez

Glock, Toyota top wet test in Jerez

Into every Formula One test a little rain must fall. But Tuesday's variety in the south of Spain was heavy water that coated Jerez de la Frontera and kept temperatures hovering in the 50s Fahrenheit. Conditions discouraged Ferrari, the only team...

Into every Formula One test a little rain must fall. But Tuesday's variety in the south of Spain was heavy water that coated Jerez de la Frontera and kept temperatures hovering in the 50s Fahrenheit. Conditions discouraged Ferrari, the only team of eight present who chose not to run at all. Scuderia Toro Rosso is not present.

Timo Glock, Toyota F1 Team, TF109.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Toyota race driver Timo Glock -- bearing memories, you think?, of rain slowing his going in Brazil -- put up a fast time in the TF109 with a 1 minute, 30.979 lap on a sodden, 2.75-mile Circuito de Jerez. The German completed 89 laps.

Rain triggered an electrical false alarm on Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber F1.09, stopping the Pole on track. Otherwise, no problems presented for the car getting its first lengthy wet-tire exposure. Kubica concentrated on setup work and race starts. He posted a 1:31.327 fast lap among 70.

"Because of the reduced downforce, the F1.09's behavior in wet conditions is quite different to last year's car," Kubica said. "There's less grip, which makes the car slide more."

Williams racer Nico Rosberg went third-quick with a best lap of 1:31.451. The German water-logged the day's highest number of laps, 114, in doing setup, tire and aerodynamic work.

"Nico Rosberg continued preparation work with the FW31 today," team test manager Dickie Stanford said. "Despite the wet conditions and a red flag temporarily halting proceedings this morning, Nico still managed to complete a race distance. We then spent the afternoon on general wet-weather setup work. We've had a good day and haven't come across any problems with the car."

Giancarlo Fisichella weighed in next with the final time in the 1:31s. The veteran Italian posted a 1:31.547 in Force India's brand-new VJM02. Fisichella drove the fewest laps for a second consecutive day. He hands off to teammate Adrian Sutil on Wednesday.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India F1 Team, VJM-02.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"Considering the amount of laps we did today, it is quite encouraging again," Fisichella said. "It is a reasonable time, six-tenths off the fastest, so I am quite pleased. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the fuel pressure again and didn't run enough. Then I was struggling a little bit to find the right setup with the full wet tires but then at the end of the day the circuit was getting better and, as with several other people, we tried the standard wet and I felt much more comfortable with the balance. Hopefully, tomorrow Adrian can do more laps and make sure we are fully ready for Barcelona."

Another test is scheduled for later in the month in the northeast of Spain as preparations increase for the season opener March 29 in Australia.

"Again, difficult weather and we missed some of the better conditions in the morning as we had a few technical issues," Force India technical director James Key said. "It was the same problem with the fuel system, but we found a solution from midmorning onwards that allowed us to do some more running. Other than this problem, the car has been very good and we ran through a program of systems checks and balance comparisons between the extreme and the standard wet tires. We're confident we're on top of the issues now and can get on with the program tomorrow, where we will look at some more setup options."

Opening-day quickster Sebastian Vettel could reach only a 1:32.220 in the Red Bull RB5, good for fifth-quick among seven drivers, and a bit of a surprise for the usually speedy German waterbaby. His 102 laps were second to Rosberg's total. As it was, the team called an audible and changed morning development work to pit-lane work such as stops. The crew assembled in Jerez were together for the first time. They'll be together for the season-opener in Melbourne, Australia, so benefited from race simulations. As originally scheduled, Vettel completed a race distance in the afternoon.

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren Mercedes, MP4-24.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Following Vettel in time and laps was Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren Mercedes, taking over for test driver Pedro de la Rosa. De la Rosa painted a woebegone picture to BBC Sport of unused test drivers presenting a danger. Perhaps a paradigm shift is evident with the new, fiscally cold winds of Formula One, one on the order of superlicense fees, personnel limits, and would-be spending caps: to wit, F1 drivers will need to keep up their chops in other series. Race driver Kovalainen kept up his skills with a 1:33.371 in 91 laps.

Kovalainen evaluated brakes and setups, and the team -- who accused Finn Kovalainen of bringing rain with him to every MP4-24 test -- worked with a new-compound wet tire. Somewhat. The quantity of rain kept Kovalainen on extreme wet tires most of the day. Bright spot of the day was wet-weather use of the KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) unit, which the team called "highly productive."

A tenth of a second later came Nelson Piquet, Beetlebomb for a second day, in 1:33.476 in 66 laps. Limited in choices by the wet conditions, the team went for adding miles to the R29.

"The wet weather today meant we had to change our program and simply worked on getting miles on the car and using the wet-weather tires," Piquet said. "Because it continued raining throughout the day, the track conditions remained pretty consistent, and so we were still able to learn some interesting things about the car."

Renault chief test engineer Christian Silk said, "The weather conditions made it difficult to keep to our program today and instead we worked on the endurance of the car and gave Nelson some wet-weather running. With the start of the season so close, it's a shame to have a fully wet day, but all the teams are in the same position. As the week goes on, the weather should improve and we will, hopefully, be able to make up for some of the track time we lost today."

Forecasts pose the possibility of rain continuing in the area the rest of the week.

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