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Friday analysis - rain leaves teams plenty to ponder 02 Oct 2009

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4 and team mate Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 2 October 2009

A wet and slippery track was the last thing anybody really needed as the Japanese Grand Prix returned to Suzuka, and as a result of a drying track on Friday morning and then further rain in the afternoon, the times were all over the place and much depended upon the point at which a driver ventured out. Since the wet-weather Bridgestone tyres used come out of a driver’s allocation for the weekend, people limited their running. If it rains again on Saturday it will pose some significant set-up problems for the race, which is scheduled to be dry, as nobody will have done any dry road tyre evaluation…

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 40.356s, P1/no time
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 41.443s, P6/1m 47.983s, P4

Kovalainen was happy with his morning outings but didn’t bother running in the afternoon. Hamilton did, even though that wasn’t the original plan, simply because he loved driving the track so much. Besides calling it awesome, he described it as “the best circuit I’ve ever driven on!”

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 40.648s, P2/1m 48.508s, P5
Nico Rosberg, 1m 42.188s, P10/1m 49.872s, P16

On his local track Nakajima was in excellent form and was fastest right up until the end of P1 when Kovalainen pipped him. He was needless to say happy with the car and performance. Rosberg said he simply tried out Bridgestone’s intermediate and wet tyres to assess the point at which they degraded on a drying track.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 40.806s, P3/1m 47.261s, P1
Tonio Liuzzi 1m 42.475s, P12/1m 47.931s, P3

Force India had a good day. Sutil said he had a really easy afternoon, with 10 laps and then P1 on a track he knows well from Formula Three. Liuzzi echoed his sentiments, and was pleased with his runs on both types of tyre.

Ferrari
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 40.895s, P4/1m 49.553s, P15
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.577s, P8/1m 48.886s, P11

Fisichella had a good morning as he quickly got a feel for the F60 and improved with each lap, but the afternoon was less satisfactory. Raikkonen focused on his car’s handling rather than tyre issues and said the situation was “reasonably good.”

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 41.421s, P5/1m 48.691s, P6
Jaime Alguersuari1m 42.677s, P14.1m 48.802s, P9

Buemi really enjoyed himself as he evaluated some new aerodynamic components. Alguersuari set about learning Suzuka and said he was satisfied with the way his day went.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 41.532s, P7/1m 48.693s, P7
Romain Grosjean, 1m 43.572s, P20/1m 49.405s, P14

Alonso deliberately limited his running in the expectation of dry conditions on Saturday and Sunday, but said he was happy with the R29 while it was running. Grosjean learned the circuit in the morning but did only a few afternoon laps.

Brawn
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 41.821s, P9/no time
Jenson Button, 1m 43.318s, P18/no time

Neither Button nor Barrichello got much out of their runs in the morning, though the former scrubbed in some intermediate tyres just in case it rains in qualifying. Neither ventured out after lunch.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 43.218s, P17/1m 47.923s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 42.332s, P11/1m 49.382s, P13

Vettel said that it was too dry for extreme wets to begin with in the morning, became too dry for the inters too, but was too wet for slicks. Neither he nor Webber felt they learned anything.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 42.657s, P13/1m 48.737, P8
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 43.407s, P19/1m 49.054s, P12

Trulli had nothing to say about his limited running. Kobayashi did a good job as stand-in for Timo Glock, who was sidelined with flu and fever, and said he wasn’t pushing 100 percent as he was readjusting after a six-year absence from Suzuka and seven months out of a Formula One cockpit.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 42.833s, P15/1m 48.861s, P10
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 42.977s, P16/1m 50.179s, P17

Kubica was really enthused about being back at Suzuka but did only a few laps in the morning and couldn’t draw many conclusions from the afternoon. Heidfeld also said there was not a lot to learn from the day.