Formula One was back on track on March 27th when testing began at Malaysia's Sepang circuit, ahead of the Grand Prix there on April 8th. This season's testing agreement means that only one car per team may be on track, so although 10 teams were present it was a shortened list of times compared to the winter. Only Spyker opted to miss this test.
Fastest man of the day was BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, who clocked a best of 1:36.187 and completed 92 laps. Set up and tyres for the Malaysian race, of course, were on his agenda, along with work on electronic and cooling systems. Kubica is scheduled to continue tomorrow and Nick Heidfeld to take over on Thursday.
Second on the time sheet was Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn, who won the season-opener in Melbourne, was just over a tenth off Kubica. Ferrari did not confirm details of its scheduled programme, but presumably Raikkonen worked on set up and tyres much the same as everyone else. He is due to continue on Wednesday.
Williams is still showing good pace and Alex Wurz was third quickest on this opening day. His programme was short and then long runs in regard to set up and aerodynamic components. "It's the first time we've run the car in such hot conditions so it's important data for us," said race team manager Tim Newton.
Rubens Barrichello was Honda's representative and posted the fourth fastest time. After its rather dismal performance in Australia Honda is working hard on upgrades for the RA107, both for Malaysia and for the future. This week the team is reported to be testing new aero and front suspension components.
Test driver Pedro de la Rosa was fifth overall for McLaren. Along with tyre evaluation the team worked on "general performance uplift" (one of Ron Dennis' phrases, surely?) including new components for the MP4-22. Lewis Hamilton, who caused quite a sensation with his drive to third in Melbourne, is scheduled to take over tomorrow.
Toyota also employed its test driver but it wasn't such a good day for Franck Montagny. A drivetrain problem in the morning caused him to stop on track and lost him time, but the team managed to get him back out in the afternoon for set up work. "It took a little bit of time to resolve (the problem) but in general the car is looking quite good at the moment," Montagny commented.
"We worked on different set-ups with these tyres and I think we are making good progress. Now we just have to work more on our set-ups to be sure we are going in the right direction. I am pretty content with the car on this track and in the hot weather, it is very drivable and there are no major problems."
Super Aguri had Takuma Sato on duty and he was seventh fastest. His 71 laps for the day consisted of set up and aerodynamic work, along with tyre comparisons. Meanwhile, Williams has reportedly not joined the arbitration action that Spyker has launched in regard to the Super Aguri SA07 being a Honda 'customer car' -- not yet, anyway.
Red Bull's David Coulthard was eighth on the list and Scott Speed rounded off the times in the sister Toro Rosso, 10th. Splitting the two was the Renault of tester Nelson A. Piquet in ninth but the Brazilian's running was hampered by mechanical problems. Heikki Kovalainen is due to take over tomorrow.
"It was a shame I didn't manage to do more running today, but these things can happen during testing," said Piquet. "This is a fun circuit, and the conditions are very different to anything we have encountered so far during the testing programme. That means this will be an important, interesting session for us and all the teams."
Since Bridgestone's system of marking the softer compound tyres with a white spot in Melbourne was not terribly effective, the manufacturer is trying out different solutions this week. A larger, red spot is one idea and another is a white line on the outside groove of the tyre, although the latter can really only be seen from the front.