It was a case of back to the future in post-season Formula 1 testing as drivers prepared for 2008 by running without traction control, while at the same time experimenting with Bridgestone slick tyres, which are due to return in 2009.
In 2008 all teams have to run with a common ECU supplied on the FIA’s behalf by McLaren Electronic Systems. As part of the package, traction and launch control has gone, and for many younger drivers the tests at Barcelona and Jerez represented their first opportunity to drive an F1 car without such aids. Teams not only had to adjust their cars to make up for the lack of traction control, but also adapt to the MES system, a process that some have found tricky.
In the event, braking for rather than accelerating out of corners provided the key change, as the new rules also outlaw the engine braking systems that in effect replicated ABS. It took drivers some time to adjust to the lack of support from the systems, and it’s anticipated that mistakes under braking will be far more common next season.
At Bridgestone’s behest, teams ran with slicks for the first time since 1997. In a straight swap they proved to be some 2sec faster than grooved tyres, but when cars ran with lower downforce to replicate the 2009 rules, they were slower. Some also ran the slicks without using tyre blankets, which are outlawed in ’09.
Timo Glock had his first run in a Toyota TF107 at the Jerez test, while Sébastien Bourdais logged more miles for Scuderia Toro Rosso. The dearth of available seats was underlined by the appearance of veterans Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella at Force India, although after driving the car the German indicated that he does not want to race for the team.