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Portimao day one - Buemi sets the pace in Portugal 20 Jan 2009

Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes 2009 Interim Car Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams FW31 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R29 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Pascal Vasselon (FRA) Toyota Chassis Technical Director Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009.

With rain blighting the opening day of this week’s multi-team test at the Algarve Motor Park on Monday, the five drivers in action were prevented from carrying out extensive running at the Portuguese circuit. Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi proved the most productive, completing 65 laps on his way to setting a fastest time of 1m 41.528s.

While Buemi was fielded in his new team’s interim car, the rest of the field were charged with gathering information about 2009 cars. Of those, McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest, as he spent a second day in the new MP4-24 after carrying out a brief shakedown on Saturday.

De la Rosa covered 28 laps in the British team’s new challenger, which was fitted with a 2008-spec rear wing as a precautionary measure to increase downforce during the runs on the slippery circuit. Despite the weather, the team carried out a number of checks and the Spaniard will continue to test on Tuesday.

Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg finished third fastest in the new FW31. Following its launch in the morning, Hulkenberg covered 28 laps as he carried out a range of system tests.

“Straight away the new car feels okay, I feel comfortable in it and for a new car, we have also had a trouble-free morning technically, which is important,” explained the German. “In truth, I cannot say too much after a few laps. But the important thing for today is simply to make sure we run through all the checks of the basic systems on the car and confirm everything is working as it should. So far that is the case and we can be happy.”

Hulkenberg finished over two seconds ahead of Renault's Nelson Piquet, who was charged with giving the newly-launched R29 its debut track run. Piquet, fourth, covered 33 laps as he collected data ahead of the further runs he will undertake on Tuesday.

"The weather was poor today with the track damp and slippery and so we were limited with what we could do," explained the Brazilian. "We therefore concentrated on checking the systems of the car, adding mileage and gathering as much information as we could.

"The weather forecast for tomorrow looks like being wet again so it may be similar to today. That's a shame because I'm really impressed with this new circuit and really want to drive here in the dry. As the week unfolds we will continue learning about the car and hopefully move towards some set-up work by the end of the week as we begin to understand the car better."

Completing the day’s line-up was Toyota tester Kamui Kobayashi who was at the wheel of the TF109 for its first test. After completing a shakedown on Sunday, Kobayashi continued to evaluate the team's KERS unit, which is being used on track for the first time this week, as well as carrying out other checks.

"It is always a very exciting moment to see your new car begin pre-season testing and that is especially true this year after such a significant regulation change,” explained Toyota’s senior general manager (chassis), Pascal Vasselon. “Overall I am very pleased with the initial results from the TF109 and I believe we have good reason for optimism.

“Of course, it is very difficult to make comparisons to the other teams in the winter, and that is particularly true when the weather is not very good. In addition to the usual challenges of testing a new car, we worked with the KERS system again today. This is a new technology to Formula One so there is a huge amount to learn but our hard work in the factory meant we were quite well prepared for this first test and we have collected a lot of important information."

Testing continues at the Portuguese circuit on Tuesday.

Unofficial Monday times from Portimao:
1. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:41.528
2. Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren, 1:46.076
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:46.335
4. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:48.907
5. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota, 1:50.989