Friday’s two free practice sessions were completed earlier this morning (GMT) and the results are very interesting. Although free practice isn’t the best way to gauge the relative competitiveness of each driver and team, it is the first time we have seen the cars on the circuit this year, driving with some degree of speed. Below are the times from both practices which saw Kimi Raikkonen lead the first and Lewis Hamilton the second.
The first practice was all about Raikkonen and the pace his Ferrari F2008 has. The Finn comfortably led Lewis Hamilton by 0.5s, although it should be noted that fuel levels are largely unknown; I wouldn’t expect this kind of margin in qualifying later today. Felipe Massa compounded the Ferrari pace by going third while fourth went to the second McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen.
From the first practice we can see that the Red Bulls are looking quite handy. Mark Webber managed fifth, David Coulthard in thirteenth. The Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella is also looking quite speedy, the Italian taking twelfth in the first and ninth in the second. I suspect his car was running on fumes as his team mate Adrian Sutil could only get as high as seventeenth in both sessions.
Honda weren’t massively off the pace either, with Jenson Button showing encouraging form in eleventh each and Rubens Barrichello in fifteenth and fourteenth respectively. Unfortunately Super Aguri, who only just managed to get to Australia, propped up the bottom of the timing sheets (Williams aside), Takuma Sato getting the better of Anthony Davidson on both occasions.
Williams, as I mentioned above, didn’t enjoy a great first session. Neither driver got any decent running in as the team struggled with a gear box issue. For the second session Nico Rosberg had a differential problem, thus rendering the car almost undriveable.
The second session saw a change of name at the top as Lewis Hamilton got the better of the Ferraris to lead. Second on the table was a remarkable effort from Mark Webber, although the Australian was close to a second off Hamilton’s pace. Coulthard improved to fifth in the afternoon underlying the pace of the RB4, although again, fuel levels are unknown.
Williams got out in the second session and Rosberg managed to get his FW30 into eighth, which is quite an achievement considering the problems he is having with his car at the moment. Also looking okay providing reliability holds out are Toyota. Despite Jarno Trulli’s mood swings all winter, the Cologne-team appear to have improved over their 2007 form, Trulli going from tenth to seventh and Timo Glock going from eighth to tenth. Admittedly, that isn’t too bad considering how they were performing during the off-season.
Renault aren’t looking as quick at the moment though. Mr-sx-tenths-man Fernando Alonso got his R28 into sixth in the first part of practice, but slipped thirteenth by the second. Nelson Piquet Jr didn’t enjoy his Friday either, starting out eighteenth and slipping to nineteenth by the afternoon. Alonso spoke of improving the stability of the car while Piquet rued an error on-track that caused damage to the gear box.
Practice One Times
|1.||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1m26.461s||25 Laps|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||1m26.948s||21 Laps|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1m26.958s||25 Laps|
|4.||Heikki Kovalainen||McLaren||1m27.114s||19 Laps|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m28.263s||18 Laps|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Renault||1m28.360s||22 Laps|
|7.||Robert Kubica||BMW||1m28.579s||12 Laps|
|8.||Timo Glock||Toyota||1m28.913s||16 Laps|
|9.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m28.957s||22 Laps|
|10.||Jarno Trulli||Toyota||1m29.014s||23 Laps|
|11.||Jenson Button||Honda||1m29.124s||25 Laps|
|12.||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India||1m29.230s||24 Laps|
|13.||David Coulthard||Red Bull Racing||1m29.301s||5 Laps|
|14.||Sebastien Bourdais||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m29.363s||32 Laps|
|15.||Rubens Barrichello||Honda||1m29.533s||17 Laps|
|16.||Nick Heidfeld||BMW||1m29.561s||7 Laps|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1m30.155s||13 Laps|
|18.||Nelson Piquet Jr||Renault||1m30.357s||21 Laps|
|19.||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri||1m31.048s||7 Laps|
|20.||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri||1m31.771s||7 Laps|
|21.||Kazuki Nakajima||Williams||1m35.053s||3 Laps|
|22.||Nico Rosberg||Williams||No Time||0 Laps|
Practice Two Times
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||1m26.559s||33 Laps|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1m27.473s||27 Laps|
|3.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||1m27.640s||29 Laps|
|4.||Heikki Kovalainen||McLaren||1m27.683s||28 Laps|
|5.||David Coulthard||Red Bull Racing||1m28.037s||26 Laps|
|6.||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1m28.208s||28 Laps|
|7.||Jarno Trulli||Toyota||1m28.292s||22 Laps|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Williams||1m28.352s||31 Laps|
|9.||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India||1m28.469s||32 Laps|
|10.||Timo Glock||Toyota||1m28.582s||28 Laps|
|11.||Jenson Button||Honda||1m28.632s||30 Laps|
|12.||Nick Heidfeld||BMW||1m28.731s||32 Laps|
|13.||Fernando Alonso||Renault||1m28.779s||37 Laps|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Honda||1m28.849s||28 Laps|
|15.||Robert Kubica||BMW||1m28.860s||35 Laps|
|16.||Kazuki Nakajima||Williams||1m29.077s||33 Laps|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1m29.161s||32 Laps|
|18.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m29.193s||40 Laps|
|19.||Nelson Piquet Jr||Renault||1m29.518s||14 Laps|
|20.||Sebastien Bourdais||Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m29.605s||11 Laps|
|21.||Takuma Sato||Super Aguri||1m30.663s||16 Laps|
|22.||Anthony Davidson||Super Aguri||1m31.527s||8 Laps|