This past weekend was the Spanish Grand Prix and was also the first race for the new development package for the F1.09. It was a long wait for this upgrade, one needed in a bad way and hopefully the first step in getting the team on par with the series leaders.
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The F1.09 has been terribly low on grip from a lack of downforce and because of that the upgrades included a redesigned front nose much higher allowing for more air flow under the car, modified sidepods and a completely new rear wing. This new package also meant that the KERS system currently used was to large to fit in the smaller spaces created and would be left out. This was actually a good think allowing the team to concentrate on getting to know this new aero package.
Friday practice now took on the feel of a testing session due to the no in season testing and a car that had no track time. In the first free practice session when the leaderboard isn’t really indicative of much, both drivers managed good times in the 1 minute 22 range which already would put them higher in the order than the past 3 races. Unfortunately in the first session Nick Heidfeld suffered a brake problem and didn’t get the track time needed.
Saturday practice had Heidfeld running off track and braking the nose and front suspension ending his session early once again and without enough laps in the car.
Despite Heidfeld’s problems things were pretty up beat and both Kubica and Heidfeld saw a great improvement with the package. Qualifying was a bit up and down unfortunately. Heidfeld suffering from not enough track time to even get to grips with a base line setup was eliminated in Q2 and would start 13th. Kubica easily made it into Q3 with only one run, but when in to the pits for a final flier in Q3, the pit crew put the rear left on the rear right and the rear right on the rear left. He abandoned the final lap with a horribly understeering car and settled for 10th on the grid.
Nick had a great start immediately leaping up a number of places into 10th while Kubica hit heavy traffic slipped back from 10th into 13th before the race was one lap old. A crash set off by Nico Rosberg in the opening corners just missed collecting Kubica and both drivers managed to get through lap one unscathed. From that point on Heidfeld and a good pit crew managed to move him up into 7th place where he finished. Kubica on the other hand complained bitterly about his car sliding all over the track, something not present in the morning practice session. He languished in 13th and was eventually lapped.
All in all the new development package is a great start, but Catalunya being notorious as a circuit with no passing meant the race was very much a long train of cars and the team was not able to get the full potential out of the car.
New bits are scheduled to be put on the car to address some concerns noted this past weekend as the next step in producing a car that needs to be a full second or more a lap and by Turkey just may be.
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