The Honda Racing F1 Team returned to the test track today just two weeks after the 2008 season finale in Brazil as the Formula One teams travelled to the familiar testing venue of the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona to commence preparations for the 2009 season.
The three-day test will see the Honda team run two programmes. Alex Wurz and Jenson Button will focus on the development of the 2009 car whilst the team also evaluates young Brazilians Lucas Di Grassi and Bruno Senna.
Alex kicked off the main test programme evaluating various aerodynamic components for next season and running the Bridgestone Potenza slick tyres. Jenson will take over the car tomorrow to complete the final two days of the test.
Lucas was the first of the young drivers to complete his half-day familiarisation programme this morning. He went out for an initial run on grooved tyres to acclimatise to the car before the team fitted used slicks for the remainder of the session. After lunch, Bruno took to the track for his first ever drive in a Formula One car. He followed the same programme as Lucas, starting on grooved tyres before moving to used slick tyres midway through the session.
Lucas will complete a full day of running tomorrow with Bruno taking over the car on Wednesday.
Alex Wurz:“The view from the cockpit is just so much nicer with slick tyres on the car! As a driver, I prefer the driving style with slicks so I am happy that the change has finally come, even if it is too late for me to race with them. My focus for today was on gathering information on the tyres whilst running various 2009 downforce levels. We have come away with good answers and a clear direction so I am pleased with the work that we achieved. It was nice to see the two young guys in action with Honda today. Both understood the car very quickly but how they develop from here with a full day in the car will be important.”
Lucas di Grassi: “My first day in the Honda car has been a good experience. The focus of my half day programme today has been to get the best possible feeling for the car ahead of my full day tomorrow. One of us had to be the first out on track today and that was me, but this morning the track was really very ‘green’ and took a while to improve. I ran with slick tyres for the first time and in a car that is both new to me and which had a combination of 2008 and 2009 aero elements, so it was a totally new experience for me but a very enjoyable one. Today I have been using old tyres, running with low downforce and working through a variety of set-ups. Tomorrow will be a better test of what I am capable of.”
Bruno Senna: “The first day of my first Formula One test has been just as big a moment as I expected it to be. I have also had a lot of fun and really enjoyed myself. This morning I focused on doing as much as I could to prepare for my turn. I listened to the team radio and watched and learned how the team works. I was feeling quite calm but on my first lap out of the garage I realised the significance of the moment. This is a very special opportunity and one which has been a dream my whole life. The team were great and left it to me to find my level, but by the end of my second run I was feeling very much at home in the car. There were lots of new sensations as the gearshifts, engine power and aerodynamics compared to a GP2 car were all very different. I need a few adjustments to be fully comfortable in the car for Wednesday but generally I am feeling good. Obviously my full day is when everything will count but I am very pleased with what I achieved today and the more laps I do, the quicker I’ll be hopefully. A great, great day for me and I am incredibly grateful to the Honda team for making it possible.”