Friday analysis - could Webber put Red Bull in the hunt? 14 Mar 2008
The first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Melbournes Albert Park saw Ferrari and McLaren evenly matched, but was generally confusing as all sorts of differing fuel loads were used as drivers set their fastest times.
It didnt help that the track conditions changed dramatically between the morning and the afternoon sessions, as the circuit rubbered in, and that high winds affected handling. We examine how each team fared
Fastest lap of day, Raikkonen 1m 26.461s, morning
Kimi Raikkonen was fastest overall, but admitted that he wasnt happy with the way that practice went for Ferrari. The F2008 was better in the morning, but the team did a less good job with the settings as the track conditions changed in the afternoon. Felipe Massas spin in the afternoon prevented him from using his second set of soft Bridgestones. Like others, he found the medium compounds more durable, and that the softer rubber tended to give better grip over one lap before graining.
Fastest lap of day, Hamilton 1m 26.559s, afternoon
Lewis Hamilton was happy with his day, believing that McLaren made the best use of their car in the changing conditions. Heikki Kovalainen, on his first Grand Prix run for McLaren, felt satisfied with the start he made with the team as he set fourth fastest times in both sessions.
Fastest lap of day, Webber, 1m 27.473s, afternoon
Overall, Mark Webber was happy with what Red Bull achieved, believing that there were four or five cars that were faster than his but, like many other drivers, expressing the view that the fuel load situation clouded the issue and prevented anyone drawing firm conclusions. David Coulthard lost time with his gearbox problem in the morning, but was happy with the fifth fastest time in the afternoon.
Fastest lap of day, Trulli, 1m 28.292s, afternoon
Tyre graining was Toyotas primary problem today, which set the team working hard on settings to try and alleviate the problem. Jarno Trulli felt that this was a qualified success and was unhappy to drop his RF108 in the gravel after putting a rear wheel on the grass under braking. Timo Glock was busy learning the track, and admitted that he hasnt yet set up his TF108 to suit his press-on driving style.
Fastest lap of day, Rosberg, 1m 28.352s, afternoon
Williams day began badly with Nico Rosberg doing only three installation laps in the morning because of a gearbox problem, but he got on the case in the afternoon to set the eighth fastest time despite further problems with the differential. Kazuki Nakajima also had a gearbox problem in the morning which hurt his track learning time.
Fastest lap of day, Alonso, 1m 28.360s, morning
Fernando Alonso was concerned about the stability of his car under braking, but Nelson Piquet was in greater trouble. First he spun and brought out the red flag in the morning, indirectly causing some problems in his gearbox which took trouble to fix. That hurt him in the afternoon too, which seriously compromised his track learning time.
Fastest lap of day, Fisichella, 1m 28.469s, afternoon
Giancarlo Fisichella felt that Force India had made a big step forward over the winter and was happy with his progress as he set the afternoons ninth best time, while Adrian Sutil encountered a minor hydraulic problem in the morning which was rectified in time for the second session.
Fastest lap of day, Kubica, 1m 28.579s, morning
BMW Sauber had a tough day. Nick Heidfeld was sidelined in the morning when a switch short-circuited, killing the electrics and stranding him out on the track. Things were fine in the afternoon, when he set the 12th fastest time. Robert Kubica did a lot of work comparing tyre compounds.
Fastest lap of day, Button, 1m 28.632s, afternoon
Jenson Button was pleased to discover that the improvement he had felt in the Honda RA108 still held up in Melbourne, as he set the 11th fastest time in the afternoon. He and Rubens Barrichello worked through their programmes without problems, in particular evaluating the two tyre compounds.
Fastest lap of day, Vettel, 1m 28.957s, morning
On the green track in the morning, Sebastian Vettel was faster with his Toro Rosso than he went in the afternoon, while Other Seb, Bourdais, lost time with an undisclosed problem in the garage in the afternoon.
Fastest lap of day, Sato, 1m 30.663s, afternoon
Super Aguri inevitably paid a penalty for their restricted winter testing, and in particular that affected Anthony Davidson who suffered an overheating problem in the afternoon. Small design changes were required to cure the problem for tomorrow.