Today witnessed 9 out of total of the 11 Formula One teams take to the track in the first group test in Jerez Spain, undertaking preparations in earnest for the beginning of the 2008 season.

Notable by their absence were BMW-Sauber who were busy with their official car launch in Munich Germany, and Honda who presumably were too busy building a pedestal for Uncle Ross to sit upon.

As is always the way, the rain in Spain falls mainly…when you don’t want it to. After two relatively clear days with McLaren on track, the moment Ferrari arrive and it all went pear-shaped. Honestly, what good is it paying millions of dollars to a Regenmeister (rain-master) for his services, if he hasn’t got even the most basic control over weather conditions?

However, the inclement weather conditions did not prevent the Maranello boys from taking to the track to carry out the first official test for the F2008. The Kim-bot and ickle Felipe securing the two fastest times by the end of the day with a 1.19.845 and 1.20.123 respectively.

massa-parks-it.jpgWhile the Kim-bot clearly stuck to driving round as fast as possible in circles to secure plenty of data for the team on things like speed, reliability, tyre wear and the such, ickle Felipe took it upon himself to test out the F2008’s off-road capabilities rally style. The Brazilian making a slight detour into the gravel trap and grass verge and at one point looking like he was attempting to launch the thing into the stratosphere. Not one to let new boys Piquet, Nakajima, Vettel and Co hog all the limelight, ickle Felipe also managed to bring out the red flags at one point during the course of the day (and we are not talking about the ones with prancing horses on them).

Strangely enough the third fastest man of the day was Sebastian Vettel in the 2007 Torro Rosso, coming in a tenth of a second faster than McLaren’s test driver Pedro de la Rosa. Vettel’s team mate Sebastien Bourdais also put in a strong performance on his first official outing with the STR team, coming 6th fastest of all.

McLaren spent the morning hiding from the rain in the garage, pretty much how you’d expect the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz to when faced with a bucket of water. At least we can understand where certain sections of the media have got the idea that the FIA carried out a witch-hunt against the Woking-based team from. We are just wondering when Martin “Witch”marsh is going to appear in a tall pointy hat, with a slightly green expression and a wart on his chin. Does that make Ron a flying monkey?

Day two of testing resumes tomorrow.

Meanwhile over in Munich Germany, the BMW-Sauber team was proudly launching their new charger the F1.08. While Technical Director Willy Rampf was waxing lyrical about their striking looking new car, official drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica were talking about their hopes for the coming season, and what they get up to in their spare time.

bmw-launch.jpg According to Quick Nick he is rather excited about the prospect of driving the new car and hopes to be able to challenge for wins with it.

Unfortunately we will just have to take his word for it, because it’s nigh on impossible to see what facial expression he is currently wearing with something akin to a garden hedgerow firmly ensconced on his chin.

If reports on Autosport are true, both the BMW-Sauber driving duo like to live fairly quiet lives away from their day job, with Nick Heidfeld confessing to enjoying pottering about and getting right on his families nerves, and Robert Kubica’s idea of a wild night is playing poker with his friends. And here we were thinking F1 stars were all about getting roaring drunk, toppling fridge’s, donning silly outfits,wearing toilet paper around their bonces and walking into lampposts. You live and learn.