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Barcelona day one - Heidfeld leads, Button stars 09 Mar 2009

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 9 March 2009. Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn BGP 001. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 9 March 2009. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 9 March 2009. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 9 March 2009. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing. Formula One Testing, Day One, Barcelona, Spain, 9 March 2009.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld may have ended the first day of testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on top, but all anyone could talk about at the end of Monday’s session was Jenson Button’s sterling performance in the newly-launched Brawn car. After leading for most of the day, Button eventually finished fourth, with a time just eight-tenths of a second adrift of Heidfeld’s quickest lap.

The session, the first of the year to feature all 10 teams in action with their new cars, started wet, but with no further rain showers the Spanish track quickly dried out. Finishing behind Heidfeld, but ahead of Button, were Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in second and third respectively.

Heidfeld covered 92 laps as he concentrated on several race-related procedures, including pit-stop practice, and fine tuning his working relationship with his engineers and mechanics. The German also took advantage of the good weather to carry out some set-up and aero work. He will continue to test the F1.09 on Tuesday.

Raikkonen completed 81 laps in the F60 for Ferrari. The Finn was charged with finding the car’s best set-up, evaluating its reliability and comparing various aerodynamic solutions. He will be in action for the Italian team again on Tuesday. Trulli, meanwhile, covered 121 laps for Toyota as he worked on the TF109’s aerodynamics, brakes and set-up.

"This morning started off with drizzly conditions but the rain quickly tailed off, giving us the chance to have a good day's work,” said the Italian. “The car felt well balanced from the start and we worked on several new things on the aero side which gave us positive results. We were competitive throughout the day and we collected a lot of data so this was a useful start to the test."

After shaking down the car at Silverstone last week, Button was charged with giving the BGP 001 its full track debut as he completed a reliability and set-up programme and a tyre evaluation. Team mate Rubens Barrichello will get his first taste of the team's new charge on Tuesday.

"It has been a good first day," said Button. "I'd like to start by thanking everyone at the team for all the hard work that has contributed to getting us here today. We have enjoyed a positive opening day of running at our first test and achieved a total of 82 laps, which we are all very pleased with.

"We did experience a problem with the gearbox late in the day but we knew we might face some reliability issues in view of our lack of testing. Fortunately, it's a minor problem that is easily addressed. It's early days yet but generally it has been a positive start to our pre-season preparations."

Fifth fastest was Nelson Piquet for Renault. The French team's priority for the day was to achieve maximum mileage as they evaluated some new development items, and the Brazilian covered 125 laps. Fernando Alonso will be in the R29's cockpit for the rest of the test.

"It was a really positive day for me and nice to be able to complete so many laps on a dry track," said Piquet. "I feel a lot more comfortable in the car now and, as we didn't have any issues during the day, I could get on with the set-up programme, which taught us some interesting things about the car. I will be back in the car in Jerez next week where we will continue our preparations for the start of the season."

Sebastian Bourdais was charged with taking out the newly-launched Toro Rosso on its first test day. Bourdais covered 86 laps in the STR4 and was pleased with his progress.

"It's much too early to talk about performance," said the Frenchman. "However, the car seems to work well and we've already learned a lot today. If we can carry on like this for the next few days, it will be a good starting point for the season."

Just under a tenth down on Bourdais was Mark Webber in the sibling Red Bull. With the team shaking down a new chassis, Webber focused on development work and aero and mechanical evaluations. The Australian covered 117 laps and will continue to test on Tuesday.

Adrian Sutil finished eighth after 129 laps in Force India's VJM02. "I feel quite confident and pleased with the progress we made," said the German. "We simulated a race and qualifying and actually it felt good. We did a long run, which was very important to see how the tyres react over this distance. I feel actually much more prepared for Melbourne, but let's see tomorrow if we can improve our times as the track conditions in the morning were not ideal."

Ninth fastest was Kazuki Nakajima for Williams. Nakajima started his day with a set-up programme before carrying out a race simulation in the afternoon. The Japanese driver covered 111 laps and finished over a tenth ahead of the day's final runner, McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen.

With the MP4-24 fitted with a new front wing, floor and top body, Kovalainen completed all his afternoon runs on identical fuel loads. The Finn covered 90 laps in total.

Testing continues in Spain on Tuesday.

Unofficial Monday times from Barcelona:
1. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber F1.09, 1:20.338
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari F60, 1:20.908
3. Jarno Trulli, Toyota TF109, 1:20.937
4. Jenson Button, Brawn BGP 001, 1:21.140
5. Nelson Piquet, Renault R29, 1:21.662
6. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso STR4, 1:22.158
7. Mark Webber, Red Bull RB5, 1:22.246
8. Adrian Sutil, Force India VJM02, 1:22.452
9. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams FW31, 1:22.813
10. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren MP4-24, 1:22.948