Sato fastest on first day in Barcelona
17 November 2008 – Takuma Sato was the fastest man out on track as preparations for the 2009 Formula One season began at Circuit de Catalunya. At Honda F1 Bruno Senna enjoyed his Formula 1 debut, while Lucas di Grassi enjoyed his first laps for Honda and Giedo van der Garde with Renault F1.
The first of a three-day test clearly showed the aerodynamic changes for 2009. BMW Sauber F1 and Williams F1 were the only teams running the 2009 front and rear wing in Spain. In the morning most teams were still running on grooved tyres to complete their installation runs but around the end of the morning every team switched to slicks. Slicks will be introduced again in 2009.
The times set by the drivers couldn't say much about the quality of the drivers or cars. Most teams switched between slicks and grooved tyres, but even with 2008 and 2009 rear wings. At Scuderia Toro Rosso the team completed its laps with Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi who are both in a fight to win a seat at the team for next season. Both drivers completed their laps in the 2008 chassis.
At the Renault F1 team Giedo van der Garde joined Nelson Piquet in the afternoon. The Dutchman earned his day of testing by winning the World Series by Renault championship this season. Van der Garde was pleased with his day of testing and will continue testing on Tuesday.