A sunny morning in Sakhir gave way to haze then went to the dogs as race drivers Jarno Trulli for Toyota, Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari, and Nick Heidfeld for BMW Sauber sorted through separate trials on a day of Formula One testing in Bahrain. Air temperatures reached to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and track temps rose to 95.
Raikkonen, fastest overall in the Ferrari F60, was confined to the garage for more than three hours after a cooling system problem arose with the KERS system, the optional-for-'09 device by which energy dispelled under braking is captured and reused. This electrical rerouting presents certain safety hazards, and the Ferrari team met the emergency, putting Raikkonen back on track in time for loose dogs to bring out red flags. In the end, the Finn was able to complete long stints to simulate race conditions with pit stops and refueling as well as race starts from the grid. He set a fast lap time on the 3.3-mile Bahrain International Circuit of 1 minute, 32.108 seconds in 107 laps.
"Until today the car's development went well, although we were mainly concentrating on its behavior and the tires," Raikkonen said. "Today we had a problem with the cooling system of the KERS, but these things can happen during the tests. Anyway, we drove many laps. The whole car improved during these tests, but it's still too early to say where we are compared to our competitors. I think we have to wait until Melbourne for that. Today was the first time I could get close to a car in front of me, but it wasn't close enough to understand if the new aerodynamics really make overtaking easier."
Heidfeld continued development work on the BMW Sauber F1.09 with attention to mechanical setup. He tried various damper and torsion bar specifications. He also worked on starts, in the morning and again at the end of the day. He had to endure an accidental engagement of the standard kill switch, which cut off the main electronic control unit and set off the cockpit fire extinguisher. The team rescued him from where the car stopped on track, modified the switch linkage, cleaned up the cockpit, and sent the German out again. He was unfazed.
"Today I drove the new BMW Sauber F1.09 in warm weather conditions for the first time, so the most important thing for me was to learn more about the general balance of the car," Heidfeld said. "Overall, it was a good day because I tried a lot of different setup solutions. I already feel happy about how the car reacts to changes."
Heidfeld recorded a 1:32.585 in 104 laps.
Only Trulli got through the day without incident. Head down, he put the TF109 around the course 149 times in evaluating setup, suspension and tires. His best lap, 1:32.230, indicated the TF109 can be competitive. "I feel happy with the car," he said. "It seems competitive and reliable."
Said Pascal Vasselon, senior general manager for chassis, "The second week of this test continues to go very well, and today we were able to complete another full day of work on the TF109. We made it through everything we had planned without any problems. The reliability of the TF109 is impressive and helping us make the most of the sessions."