Christian Klien put BMW-Sauber on top of 2009 pre-season F1 testing for the first time as week two dawned over the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, with the sandstorm that had so badly marred the previous week no longer any more than just a distant memory and the three teams present able to cover more than 2,000 kilometres between them.
The Austrian completed 131 laps behind the wheel of the Munich and Hinwil-based squad's F1.09, and wound up almost three tenths of a second clear of nearest challenger Kimi Raikkonen in the new Ferrari. He praised the perfect conditions that enabled him to focus on developing the mechanical and aerodynamic set-up of the car, conduct simulated starts and evaluate different tyre compounds.
“Today was a very productive day,” remarked the 26-year-old, who will be taken over from on day two by Nick Heidfeld for the remainder of the test. “We collected a lot of data and I even did a long run at the end of the session. Again, we didn't have a single technical problem, which is very encouraging.”
Similarly encouraged was 2007 F1 World Champion Raikkonen, who focussed on an intensive programme of set-up configuration work, trying out new mechanical and aerodynamic components, Bridgestone tyre comparisons, long runs to test the reliability of the F60 and practice starts.
“It was a very intense day,” acknowledged the Finn, who will again be in the car on day two. “We tried to make up the time we lost last week, although in the morning we had some minor problems which slowed us down a bit. I'm satisfied with how things went, though.
“The car reacts very well to our set-ups and confirms to deliver a constant performance on the long run. Let's hope the weather remains like this so we can drive many more kilometres until the end of this session.”
The third driver in action in the Persian Gulf was Toyota's Jarno Trulli, who got through the most laps of any of the trio present – with 141 tours under his belt – as the experienced Italian made strong progress in terms of mechanical and aerodynamic set-up and tyre comparisons. Though he ultimately ended up just over half a second shy of Klien's quickest effort, until late afternoon all three drivers were blanketed by less than two tenths, hinting at a particularly close season ahead.
“We made it through way more than two race distances today,” underlined the Italian, who will remain in the cockpit for a second consecutive day on Tuesday. “In fact, I think this is my personal best for mileage at a test day, so I'd say this was a positive and productive day.
“There were a lot of items to test on a full programme and we got through everything. We made good progress and we were consistently competitive all day long. This has been a good start to our second week here.”