Renault’s Robert Kubica topped the tables after the first free practice this morning. The pre-lunch running wasn’t without incident and the circuit saw two red flags during the 90-minute test. However, while Kubica has managed to go fastest the fuel levels of each car is unknown and the true pace of the drivers won’t be known until qualifying on Saturday evening.
The bumps around the Albert Park lake circuit caught a few drivers out, as did the raising of a kerb which caused a few machines to become unstable and send the drivers hack-sawing the steering wheel off to the outer edge of the track. Of the incidents that happened in the morning, the two most notable should go to Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese pilot caused both red flags, and both were related to the Sauber pilot’s front wing. First, Kobayashi clipped a cone on the inside of a corner which damaged the wing and sent carbon fibre across the circuit. The incident sent Kamui bouncing over the gravel although he did manage to recover and return to the pits. The track was red-flagged to allow marshals to safely clear the carbon fibre from the tarmac.
Twenty minutes later Kobayashi was back on track with a new wing fitted, but as the former-Toyota driver braked into turn three, the wing dropped down, lodged under the car and sent Kamui off the tarmac and into the gravel. Because of the way the wing appeared to simply fall from the nose at a point where there are no fixings, the FIA sent their technical delegate, Jo Bauer, down to the Sauber garage to inspect the sister C29 piloted by Pedro De La Rosa.
Pedro De La Rosa was given the all-clear to continue although the team weren’t entirely sure why the wing failed in the way that it did. Front wing failures like as seen in Melbourne can prove to be very dangerous, as the wing can get trapped under the front wheels, removing any steering and braking effect and essentially converting the driver into a passenger. And Sauber’s woes continued as their Spanish driver pulled off the track in the final ten minutes with clutch failure.
On happier tones, Force India decided to run test and reserve driver Paul Di Resta in the first practice session, the team saying that it is good to allow their reserve some time in the car just in case he should be needed to step up. Di Resta proved to be more than capable and set a lap time only 0.345s shy of team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi. Virgin Racing continued their problematic debut season in Formula One with further lack of running. Timo Glock was confined to the garage for most of the morning with an oil leak while it became public knowledge that the fuel tank of the VR-01 isn’t large enough to get to the end of races.
|1.||Robert Kubica Renault||1m26.927s||22 Laps|
|2.||Nico Rosberg Mercedes||1m27.126s||18 Laps|
|3.||Jenson Button McLaren||1m27.482s||22 Laps|
|4.||Felipe Massa Ferrari||1m27.511s||18 Laps|
|5.||Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing||1m27.686s||23 Laps|
|6.||Fernando Alonso Ferrari||1m27.747s||21 Laps|
|7.||Lewis Hamilton McLaren||1m27.793s||22 Laps|
|8.||Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m28.014s||21 Laps|
|9.||Vitaly Petrov Renault||1m28.114s||25 Laps|
|10.||Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India||1m28.192s||18 Laps|
|11.||Paul Di Resta Force India||1m28.537s||25 Laps|
|12.||Michael Schumacher Mercedes||1m28.550s||19 Laps|
|13.||Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m28.572s||21 Laps|
|14.||Mark Webber Red Bull Racing||1m28.683s||22 Laps|
|15.||Pedro De La Rosa Sauber||1m29.465s||13 Laps|
|16.||Rubens Barrichello Williams||1m29.712s||18 Laps|
|17.||Nico Hulkenberg Williams||1m30.249s||26 Laps|
|18.||Kamui Kobayashi Sauber||1m31.588s||5 Laps|
|19.||Jarno Trulli Lotus||1m31.652s||13 Laps|
|20.||Heikki Kovalainen Lotus||1m31.654s||26 Laps|
|21.||Lucas Di Grassi Virgin Racing||1m32.831s||25 Laps|
|22.||Karun Chandhok Hispania Racing||1m33.401s||24 Laps|
|23.||Bruno Senna Hispania Racing||1m34.251s||19 Laps|
|24.||Timo Glock Virgin Racing||1m34.924s||8 Laps|