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Friday analysis - calm and collected first day in China 17 Oct 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren talks with Phil Prew (GBR) McLaren Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing gets refuelled
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008 Detail of the car of Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008

By and large this was a normal Friday at the Shanghai International Circuit, with all of the drivers working through varying programmes of tyre evaluation and chassis set-up for the Chinese Grand Prix. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was the only driver to break the 1m 36s barrier…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 35.630s, P1/1m 35.750s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 36.103s, P4/1m 36.797s, P13

Hamilton was delighted that his MP4-23 was well balanced from the start and that no matter what changes they made to it, it just kept getting better. He also reported that he felt very confident as a result. Kovalainen spent both sessions working on balance, and was satisfied with the way his day went.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 36.661s, P6/1m 36.024s, P2
Nelson Piquet, 1m 37.180s, P9/1m 36.094s, P3

Alonso and Piquet were understandably pleased with the R28’s performance and neither reported any problems.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 38.219s, P18/1m 36.159s, P4
Timo Glock, 1m 37.664s, P16/1m 36.615s, P11

After a slow start the TF108s proved quite quick. Trulli said his was behaving well and that he made good progress with the set-up. Glock, however, reported that his was tricky to drive and that he hadn’t yet found the right direction on set-up.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 37.491s, P11/1m 36.375s, P5
David Coulthard, 1m 37.638s, P14/1m 36.808s, P14

Webber was quite happy with his car’s faultless running all day, while Coulthard said that traction was his main issue.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 36.020s, P2/1m 36.480s, P6
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 36.052s, P3/1m 36.542s, P8

Massa and birthday boy Raikkonen both said they were quite happy with the way their days had gone. The Brazilian said his F2008 was a bit twitchy in the morning but that the handling improved in the second part of the afternoon session. The Finn had a couple of spins but said that his car wasn’t too bad.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 37.070s, P8/1m 36.529s, P7
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 37.278s, P10/1m 36.925s, P15

Bourdais once again had the upper hand here, even though his day ended prematurely when he spun off in the first corner toward the end of the afternoon session. Vettel ran into some graining problems with his tyres and said he still needed to massage his STR3’s balance.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 36.507s, P5/1m 36.775s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 37.040s, P7/1m 36.553s, P9

As usual, BMW Sauber did not go for outright lap times as Heidfeld and Kubica conducted their normal Friday programmes. The former reported that not every step they took was in the right direction, while the latter said his F1.08 still lacked balance and that the level of grip was again poor.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 37.638s, P15/1m 36.556s, P10
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 37.630s, P13/1m 36.975s, P16

Rosberg said he was broadly happy with his day, especially as his FW30’s tyres were working much better than did the FW29’s here last year. Changes in weight distribution helped as the day progressed. Nakajima said his car also got better through the day.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 38.479s, P20/1m 37.473s, P17
Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.285s, P19/1m 37.617s, P18

Fisichella felt that he made a step forward with the set-up in the afternoon, when his VJM01’s balance and grip were better, and Sutil echoed his sentiments.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 37.619s, P12/1m 37.800s, P19
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 37.827s, P17/1m 37.904s, P20

Button had a frustrating day vainly pursuing a decent balance on his RA108, a problem that also afflicted Barrichello.