Yesterday witnessed nine out of eleven current Formula 1 teams returning to testing action at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, ahead of the opening round of the European races in Spain in two weeks time.

Usually this early season test is an opportunity for all the teams to start adding new developmental pieces to their cars, in a bid to boost their championship hopes against rival teams.

slicks1.jpg Tyre supplier Bridgestone provided the teams present with an opportunity to test out the 2009 regulation specification slick tyres.

Apparently any testing done using the new specification slicks does not count towards the teams 15,000 km testing limit, so many teams took advantage of the fact to test out some of their new components whilst pounding around the circuit relentlessly on the black round things.

The morning session rather unusually was topped by Honda’s Austrian Beanpole Alex Wurz, prompting all sorts of speculation about the emerging omnipotent powers of ‘Uncle’ Ross Brawn, Ferrari’s ex-Technical Director who took over leadership of the Brackley team at the end of last year.

Really if you consider 7 times World Champion Michael Schumacher has been raised to the status of a near demi-god in the eyes of his fanbase not withstanding cowboy boots, flowery shirts and the fashion sense of someone’s slightly drippy grandmother, then it’s not so far fetched to imagine a member of Honda’s green trouser brigade could likewise imminently join the Pantheon of the Gods.

Fortunately it would seem the Brackley outfit under the tutelage of Uncle Ross are making steady progress in a forwardly direction, which must be relief to all concerned (well apart from their rivals obviously), especially if you compare this season to the previous one where the team unfortunately seemed to engage reverse mode and get permanently stuck in it.

mclaren-rear-wing1 Ferrari’s arch-rivals McLaren meanwhile, took the opportunity also to test out the 2009 spec tyres in association with a new rear wing in anticipation for the 2009 season, so their car was set up to perform aerodynamically as close to the 2009 regulations as possible.

Well that’s McLaren’s excuse for test driver Pedro ‘the Pink’ being beaten by Honda’s test driver on the first day of testing, and we presume they are sticking to it like epoxy resin.

After minimal running during the morning session where Ferrari’s Felipe Massa only completed 12 laps, in the afternoon the Maranello outfit once more came out to play.

The little Brazilian poppet completing 77 laps in total for the day, putting in a stunning fastest lap somewhere in the region of 2.4 seconds faster than any of the rival teams, which must have caused a few raised eyebrows from within the paddock.

kimi-raikkonens-drink-supply1Before you all start fretting that Felipe has taken to employing drastic measures in his championship bid and started surreptitiously consuming the Kim-bot’s rocket fuel (as pictured), we understand that the Ferrari driver’s stunning lap times were actually set on a lap utilising the 2009 spec tyres and 2008 downforce levels, alongside the introduction of Ferrari’s latest radical new gizmo….the holy nose cone.

Yes finally after many months of speculation in the media and across Internet forums, the much vaunted and discussed aerodynamic piece finally broke cover in testing.

The ‘hole’ reportedly works by utilising the high-pressure air that builds up between the front wing and the underneath of the nose cone, channelling the air over the top of the car onto the rear wing and thus improving the car’s downforce.

And is not as suggested by some pundits, actually a device used for cooling Kimi’s feet because his socks become a particularly nasty biohazard after spending an hour and a half in close proximity to the flying Finn in stifling heat in the cockpit. If this had been the case we’d expect a huge gaping hole to appear right under Felipe’s seat, for every race he rolled out his lucky underpants.

the-holy-nose.jpg Back at Maranello apparently an investigation is now under way, after the news of the ‘holy nose’ contraption as some fans have dubbed it, got mysteriously leaked to the Italian Media back in January.

Reports have suggested that Technical Director Aldo Costa was horrified to find out that despite very few people within the team actually knowing about the existence of the aerodynamic piece back then, it still somehow found it’s way into the press.

Unconfirmed scurrilous rumours have suggested that once Mr.Costa has pinned down the guilty culprit, they will be having a face to face meeting with a reel of duct tape and banned from social networking site Facebook for a year.

Unfortunately it would seem this is one such incident that Nigel Stepney cannot be blamed for…but does raise the ugly spectre that there might yet still be someone lurking inside Maranello that can’t be trusted and deserves a firm smack over the knuckles with Nick Tombazis’ trusty slide-rule.

michael-in-action Meanwhile in other news, Ferrari’s official 3rd driver Michael Schumacher (who incidentally will be testing the F2008 at Barcelona on Wednesday) was yesterday back in action on a motobike at the Eurospeed way at the Lausitzring in Germany.

Wearing yet another rather fetching outfit (this time in Orange), the former World Champion who was taking part in a bike promotion unfortunately had a small disagreement with an oil slick on track and found himself deposited on his rear end on the concrete. No doubt you will all be relieved to know the German Superstar was unhurt in the incident, although we do suspect there might be a slight dent in his ego (not to mention a few grazes on his rear end).

F1 Testing continues again today at the Circuit de Catalunya, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa once more leading proceedings for the Maranello outfit. Forza Ferrari.

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