The first of two practice sessions at Circuit de Catalunya has seen some interesting times set as most of the cars ran with updates for the first time. As mentioned earlier in the week, these sessions will be important to the teams as they all try to gain the most from their aerodynamic tweaks, made even harder by the ban on in-season testing. Needless to say, most drivers set a few more laps than normal and the order is a little mixed.
Unsurprisingly, Jenson Button leads the pack with a benchmark time 0.355s faster than second-placed driver Jarno Trulli. Ross Brawn stated this week that although few updates have been made to the championship leading BGP 001 since the first race in Australia, the Spanish round would see the chassis receive some upgrades.
The next surprise were the BMWs, with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld setting the third and fourth quickest times. As with testing, it is unknown what fuel loads the drivers are carrying and the laps set may just have been run on fumes. But to see both drivers in the mix (albeit 0.4s apart) is certainly encouraging.
The Williams showed off their now customary practice pace, although credit where it is due, it wasn’t just Nico Rosberg who was beaming his way around the paddock as team mate Kazuki Nakajima went ever so slightly faster. In fact, the young Japanese pilot was only 0.001s shy of Nick Heidfeld ahead of him.
Surprise number three came from Nelson Piquet Jr, who posted the seventh fastest lap of the morning, a second shy of the pace setting Brawn and 0.4s the better of team mate Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard ended up in P17, although the difference between the pair can be explained by the team allowing Piquet more low-fuel mileage in practice in order to help the Brazilian with his qualifying form.
Timo Glock, Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello rounded out the top ten.
The Red Bulls had a low-key session with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel breaking for lunch in P12 and P13. They did remain ahead of the McLaren duo though, with Lewis Hamilton down in P14 and Heikki Kovalainen in P19. All in all, there were few incidents in the first session, with only Vettel, Webber and Glock running wide through corners and Rosberg had a brief spin in his Williams.
|1.||Jenson Button Brawn||1m21.799s||21 Laps|
|2.||Jarno Trulli Toyota||1m22.154s||30 Laps|
|3.||Robert Kubica BMW||1m22.221s||24 Laps|
|4.||Nick Heidfeld BMW||1m22.658s||14 Laps|
|5.||Kazuki Nakajima Williams||1m22.659s||24 Laps|
|6.||Nico Rosberg Williams||1m22.667s||26 Laps|
|7.||Nelson Piquet Jr. Renault||1m22.753s||24 Laps|
|8.||Timo Glock Toyota||1m22.828s||29 Laps|
|9.||Felipe Massa Ferrari||1m22.855s||15 Laps|
|10.||Rubens Barrichello Brawn||1m22.859s||24 Laps|
|11.||Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari||1m22.873s||20 Laps|
|12.||Mark Webber Red Bull Racing||1m22.934s||25 Laps|
|13.||Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing||1m22.959s||24 Laps|
|14.||Lewis Hamilton McLaren||1m23.077s||21 Laps|
|15.||Sebastien Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m23.088s||30 Laps|
|16.||Giancarlo Fisichella Force India||1m23.089s||25 Laps|
|17.||Fernando Alonso Renault||1m23.157s||18 Laps|
|18.||Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso||1m23.185s||31 Laps|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen McLaren||1m23.522s||17 Laps|
|20.||Adrian Sutil Force India||1m23.536s||19 Laps|