Even as the mother company faces its first full-year slathering of red ink since 1937 and the primary sponsor is shedding 15,000 jobs, Toyota F1 took a bushy-tailed approach to a two-week testing stay in Bahrain on Tuesday with Timo Glock laying...
Even as the mother company faces its first full-year slathering of red ink since 1937 and the primary sponsor is shedding 15,000 jobs, Toyota F1 took a bushy-tailed approach to a two-week testing stay in Bahrain on Tuesday with Timo Glock laying down the fast time of the day.
Glock toured the 3.362-mile Bahrain International Circuit in 1 minute, 33.501 seconds. He was followed by Felipe Massa of Ferrari in 1:33.656 and Robert Kubica of BMW Sauber in 1:33.702. As usual in tests, times are unofficial.
Fog slowed the start of proceedings as the medical helicopter was grounded till midmorning. But the interruption was nothing like that brought by lashing rain at a January test in Portugal. Once sun broke through, air temperatures rose from below 60 degrees Fahrenheit to above 80 degrees, and track temps reached nearly 90.
Setup was the order of the day. Each of the Formula One teams in Bahrain put new cars on track to test. Glock drove the TF109 78 laps.
"After the weather intervened during our Portugal test, this was our first real chance to give the TF109 a run in dry conditions," Glock said. "The fog held us up briefly at the start, but it wasn't a major problem. We did a lot of setup work and in the end we found a good direction. The car felt quite consistent so this is already a positive sign. We got through a lot of laps so this was an encouraging start to the test."
Chief engineer Dieter Gass was upbeat.
"This has already been a positive day and a good way to start our two weeks in Bahrain," Gass said. "It's great to be here in nice weather, and this circuit always has very good temperatures for a winter test. We were slightly delayed by fog early this morning, but from then on we could run at significant temperatures. We did some aero work and evaluated different setup options, learning what direction we have to take with the new car, new aero package, and new tires. We had no major problems and completed some useful work."
Kubica stopped the F1.09 on track shortly after the lunch break. A delay to address a mechanical issue failed to inhibit a busy afternoon. He completed a day-high 95 laps.
"It was the first time I was able to drive the new car in warm weather," Kubica said. "We learned a lot about the car's behavior in these conditions, so, overall, it was a good day."
Ferrari focused its report on the weather. Massa completed only 38 laps in the F60.
Meanwhile in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, the bulk of the Formula One field spent the time as usual: following Sebastien Buemi.
The Swiss rookie covered the 2.75-mile Circuito de Jerez in 1:19.660 for Scuderia Toro Rosso. As he has been in his impressive mileage in gaining the job of Formula One race driver, Buemi was at the wheel of last year's STR3 chassis. Tuesday it bore a 2009-spec Ferrari engine. Just to leave himself something to do Wednesday, Buemi was well off his best December time at Jerez of 1:17.258. His orders were: setup, suspension and miles. He also tested a steering system. Thanks to a midmorning rain, he was able to use soft compound tires in the dry and intermediate and full wets in the damp. Workhorse of the day, Buemi completed 104 laps.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel came second-best in 1:22.177. Putting in 63 laps in the newly unveiled RB5, the German made the most of dry conditions and, uncharacteristically, parked to wait out the wet.
Vettel's leg-breaking teammate, Mark Webber, whose housekeeper recently tripped over his dog to add to the household casualty list, appears Wednesday for his first drive since his November bone-jarring run-in between mountain bike and SUV.
Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg took the wheel of the FW31 for 82 laps. His best lap was a 1:22.443.
"Today Nico Hulkenberg worked on mapping, systems checks, and setups on the FW31 in preparation for the first Grand Prix in Melbourne (Australia)," technical director Sam Michael said. "Although there was some wet weather in the middle of the day, there was plenty of dry running and we have a lot of useful data to look at tonight."
Rain also hampered Renault's test plans. Nelson Piquet completed only 35 laps in the R29, the best of them a 1:23.313. Despite limited mileage, the team focused on the KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) component.
"It's a shame that we lost some track time today because at this stage of the season we need to get as many miles on the car as possible," Piquet said. "As the car is so new, we learn something with every lap, and we have some useful data to go through this evening. The forecast looks better for tomorrow so, hopefully, we can continue the work we started today."
Chief test engineer Christian Silk explained that erratic weather disrupts the necessarily methodical nature of testing.
"The track was inconsistent today because of the weather, but it dried out by the end of the day and we put a couple of long runs together and the car behaved well and gave us some good data," Silk said. "The forecast looks much better for the rest of the week so that should allow us to continue learning about the car."
Testing continues through the week in both locations. Force India is not scheduled to test until next month. The Australian Grand Prix is scheduled for Melbourne on March 29.