By DAISY SAMPSON
FORMULA 1 fans were treated to a sneak preview of the cars for the 2009 season as both Ferrari and McLaren carried out testing at the Algarve Motor Park between December 15 and 17.
Ferrari star Felipe Massa took to the circuit on Monday, with a best lap time of 1 minute 32 seconds but retired after 36 laps as he felt unwell.
Marc Gene, the Ferrari test driver, put the 2009 car through its paces on Tuesday as the Ferrari team concentrated on testing the endurance of the car with multiple laps of the circuit.
“The track is still very slippery but I think that if there were five or six teams here this wouldn’t be a problem. Nevertheless, I think the circuit is brilliant,” he said.
Fans and press were allowed a look into the workings of the Ferrari team during testing, being able to watch mechanics work on the car and observe the drivers as they prepared to tackle the challenging Algarve Motor Park track.
Meanwhile, McLaren were keeping their car tightly under wraps and only allowed the public the chance to view the machine in action as it raced around the track.
Test driver Gary Parffett for McLaren managed a best lap time of 1 minute 31 seconds in the newly modified car on Monday while on Tuesday it was the turn of Pedro de la Rosa to test the limits of the impressive McLaren completing a circuit in a record 1 minute 30 seconds.
“The track is fantastic,” said Pedro de la Rosa. “It looks like a rollercoaster and is fun to drive, although it is not particularly physically demanding for drivers.”
The team experimented over the testing period with an improved electrical unit and a 2009 front wing using the controversial KERS system which conserves energy that would otherwise be lost under braking.
The Toyota F1 team is set to be at the Algarve Motor Park on January 20 for official testing of their new TF109, while the day before Renault will be launching the new R29 Formula 1 car at the circuit and letting drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet try their hand at the track.
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