Last week, F1 teams began testing their new 2009 regulated cars. Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso, McLaren, and Toyota tested at Portimao in Portugal. At the same time, BMW launched their F1.09 car at Valencia and started testing in Spain.
Meanwhile Ferrari decided to test the F60 in Mugello because of bad weather in Portimao Circuit. Their last day of testing showed that Ferrari's gamble payed off.
All week, there was rain in Portimao Circuit. They only used slicks on Thursday afternoon. On Friday, stormy weather prevented anyone from coming into the track. Even the medical helicopter didn't take off in these conditions.
In Portugal, Toro Rosso was the fastest car because their car is still under 2008 regulations. They concentrated on new downforce levels with Sebastian Buemi. Williams looked fast in wet conditions, and the team was happy with their speed after Portugal; however, the team wants to improve relaibility. I think it is too early to judge FW31's speed and reliability.
Last year, the FW30 looked impressive in testing, but during the season it was not fast enough. Renault launched the R29 in Portugal and car looks very ugly with the team's new colors. Piquet Jr. and Alonso tested the car and it didn't look fast in wet conditions.
We will see its real speed in Jerez in early February.
Pedro de la Rosa and Lewis Hamilton tested the MP4-24. It was fast in wet conditions; but on Thursday, Hamilton had a engine problem. The engine system suddenly shut down. We saw these kinds of problems before 2007 in the McLaren cars, yet Hamilton was pleased with the car.
In wet conditions, the MP4-24 was faster than the other 2009 cars but they used 2008 rear wing in wet conditions. Also Heikki Kovalainen never had a chance to try out the new car because of the bad weather.
Toyota tested too but they had an engine problem on Thursday. Glock and Trulli were optimistic about the TF109's pace.
The TF109 didn't look fast; however, the weather didn't allow for any real clue about the car's pace. Also, Toyota decided not to race with KERS in Melbourne as did Renault.
McLaren looks okay regading KERS but Williams still remains a question mark.
BMW tested the F1.09 in Spain with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. The weather was sunny all week, but in last two days, wind caused little problems for the team. Kubica tested the car for three days and team concentrated on reliability and KERS.
In dry conditions, BMW has more data than any other team about using slicks and KERS in normal conditions. They even said that it will be hard to race with KERS at Melbourne. Heidfeld tested the F1.09 the last two days and he learned about the new car.
Also, BMW seems ahead of their rivals now and they didn't have reliability problems. We will see F1.09's pace against their rivals in other tests. For now, BMW looks okay.
Ferrari tested the new F60 in Mugello because of the weather in Portugal. A German car magazine reported a front wing problem and exhaust pipes over bodywork. Scuderia Ferrari still has yet to confirm or deny this news.
The F60 made the whole team happy. Kimi Raikkonen was happy with KERS and car's pace in wet conditions. Also Felipe Massa, was confident about the F60's reliability, giving it an eight on 10 point scale. Only Massa drove in dry conditions, and he was delighted about the pace.
Massa had an hydraulic problem on last day. The team may use KERS in Melbourne. Ferrari seems good and the drivers are happy about car especially with KERS, but the Bahrain test will surely explain what the situation is regarding development.
In conclusion, weather played the leading role in testing and only BMW and Ferrari tested in better conditions than others. Had there been better conditions, we would have seen the real scene in the F1 field.