Barcelona Testing Times, Brawn GP Fly, McLaren Flop

Ryan WoodAnalyst IMarch 9, 2009

Testing at Barcelona began today with the track a little wet from a small shower which led to teams using the intermediates for the start of the session. The rain shortly disappeared, with the track drying in less than half an hour.

Toro Rosso and Brawn GP both debuted their cars to the public today with Button setting quick lap after quick lap. This led to Button topping the time sheets at the end of the session, over half a second ahead of second placed man Jarno Trulli in the impressive Toyota.

Yet again McLaren languished in last place, with Heikki clocking a time of 1:24:289, over three seconds off Button's pace.

In fact, the top three teams from 2008 were the slowest three teams today, you could almost turn the times round to reveal the 2008 WCC results.

So, have Brawn GP finally conquered the game that is F1? Its looking positive, however with a blank car you can't overlook the fact they may be putting in some 'Glory Laps' with low fuel to attract sponsorship in these difficult times.

Have the top three teams from 2008 (Ferrari, McLaren and BMW), lost out in these new regulations? Its unlikely, Ferrari have proven their pace in past 2009 tests, BMW had problems today which saw Nick Heidfeld clock just one lap in the early morning, and minimal laps in the afternoon.

However, we come back to McLaren who have been in the bottom three throughout 2009. They chose to run the 2009 regulation wing today, which is a welcome sign. Or is it? When McLaren run the 2009 wing they are often miles of the pace, and today was no different.

Heikki couldn't match even Force India's pace which saw them clock the fourth fastest time.

Is there any course for concern? Following Billy Sexton's article, many people have different views on the problems facing McLaren. Problems? Sandbagging? They're telling the truth about their pace?

I personally, and after looking at some recent photo's feel the team are sandbagging, lets take a look at my reasons:

If you know about rear diffusers you'll see the McLaren's rear diffuser has been blocked off, and is a very simple design. This may be because they have something they don't want us and more importantly their competitors to see.


Secondly, this is from a dutch reporter at the circuit commenting on Heikki's progress:

'So far, it appears the team is mainly concentrating on the new rear wing and the behavior of the car. Thus the Finn his McLaren car has almost stopped at the beginning of the straight piece and then pulled hard way. Kovalainen also sometimes runs at half speed on the straight piece.'

So are McLaren just testing the rear wing, and therefore not pushing hard? Is Heikki only doing half speed on the straights? Is the rear diffuser really slowing them down by three seconds?

Personally, I think the answer is yes, McLaren are a top team, three seconds is huge in F1.

Testing Times from this morning:

01. J. Button Brawn GP 1:21.140
02. J. Trulli Toyota 1:21.794
03. N. Piquet Jr. Renault 1:22.008
04. A. Sutil Force India 1:22.452
05. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:22.660
06. M. Webber Red Bull Racing 1:22.679
07. K. Nakajima Williams 1:22.813
08. K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:22.869
09. N. Heidfeld BMW 1:23.605
10. H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:24.289