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Desert sand whips up Ferrari, BMW and Toyota frustrations

If Ferrari, BMW-Sauber and Toyota believed a grand total of 53 laps between them had constituted a bad day in Bahrain on Wednesday, the ongoing sandstorm on Thursday made things considerably worse again – with not a single flying lap being set by any of the drivers present.

Jarno Trulli found his progress particularly hampered, having been able to conduct precious little running behind the wheel of Toyota's new TF109 in Portimao last month either due to the inclement – albeit entirely diverging – weather conditions there.

With dust hanging in the air around the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir and visibility consequently severely reduced, the inability of the medical helicopter to fly between the track and the local hospital saw all action suspended with only initial, slow-speed installation laps having been conducted.

That means Trulli still has yet to enjoy any meaningful track time in the Japanese concern's 2009 challenger – and will doubtless be hoping for considerably better fortunes on the fourth and final day of testing in the desert kingdom on Friday.

“I've never seen a sandstorm in the desert before,” the experienced Italian confessed, “so this is a new experience for me. It's obviously a pity that we have been stuck in the pits both yesterday and today. I went out for one installation lap in the morning and the track was covered in dust.

“My first test in Portugal was also heavily disrupted by the cold and the rain, so I'm itching to have a real run in the car. Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to do more work.”

“Again, we have been unable to run today because of the lingering effects of yesterday's sandstorm,” added the Cologne-based outfit's chief race and test engineer, Dieter Gass. “The conditions improved slightly during the day, but we could not test because the medical helicopter was unable to land at the nearest hospital. We will return tomorrow in the hope of getting back onto the track.”

Aside from Trulli, Kimi Raikkonen was present for Ferrari, whilst 2008 Canadian Grand Prix winner Robert Kubica completed the frustrated trio at BMW-Sauber, with the Munich and Hinwil-based squad able merely to conduct a number of systems checks on the new F1.09 as it sat inside the pit garage. Test driver Christian Klien is set to take over for the final day, weather permitting.

The Bahrain debacle means that, along with the heavy rain in the Algarve last month, two of the major pre-season F1 tests ahead of the Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser in Melbourne at the end of March have been seriously disrupted by the elements – crucially, with in-season testing at a greater premium than ever before.


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