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Friday analysis - Williams, Brawn and Toyota ahead 27 Mar 2009

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Peter Windsor (AUS) Journalist and TV Commentator.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 March 2009 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009

The first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park produced a fascinating timesheet with Williams, Brawn and Toyota all showing enviable pace. Needless to say their Friday performance left a lot of high-ranking teams with red faces and a mountain of data to comb through for answers. We examine how each team fared ahead of Saturday’s action…

Nico Rosberg, 1m 26.687s, P1/1m 26.053s, P1
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 26.736s, P2/1m 26.560s, P7

Setting the fastest time in each session, and taking a one-two in the first, made this a day to remember for Williams. Having had their diffuser declared legal by the race stewards in the early hours of Friday morning, they built on that all through practice. Rosberg reported that his FW31 was working ‘particularly well’ in both sessions, and was well balanced, as did Nakajima.

Brawn GP
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 27.226s, P4/1m 26.157s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 27.467s, P6/1m 26.374s, P5

Brawn GP’s first official day in the saddle began with the rejection of the protest against them by the race stewards, and got better and better. Barrichello was happy with his tyre evaluation work, while Button felt he had some set-up work to do on the softer tyre. He also complained of traffic on his new tyre laps in the second session. The BGP001s ran reliably, with only minor problems.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 28.142s, P12/1m 26.350s, P3
Timo Glock, 1m 27.710s, P8/1m 26.443s, P6

Toyota was the third happy camper after the stewards’ decision on their diffuser. Trulli said he was still not completely happy with the balance of his TF109 and that it was not particularly comfortable to drive. Glock reported that the first session was better for him than the second, when the behaviour of the car changed.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 29.081s, P17/1m 26.370s, P4
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 32.784, P20/1m 26.740s, P8

Red Bull described their day as ‘hit and miss’. Webber lost time in the first session with a driveshaft seal failure, and was in the pits again in the afternoon with an exhaust problem, and said he was surprised to be as high as fourth and that he did not expect to be there tomorrow. Vettel ground to a halt with hydraulic problems in the first session, then spun and could not restart in the second.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 27.993s, P9/1m 27.040s, P9
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 28.603s, P14/1m 27.282, P13

Sutil sprang surprises in both sessions, with ninth fastest times and a couple of fastest laps early on in the second. He reported that he was happy with the VJM02 apart from when it was on the softer rubber in the second session. Fisichella said his car felt better at high speed, but he had a problem with the rear brakes locking up.

Felipe Massa, 1m 27.642s, P7/1m 27.064s, P10
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.750s, P3/1m 27.204s, P11

Nobody expected to see Ferrari in only 10th and 11th places, and they began practice smarting at the defeat by the stewards. Massa lost one chance to go fast on the soft rubber in the second session when he twitched into oversteer close to the end of the lap, and also found the balance had changed since he ran the harder compound Bridgestone. Raikkonen was fast in the first session, but did not find a satisfactory solution to grip problems in the second.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 28.123s, P10/1m 27.232s, P12
Nelson Piquet, 1m 29.461s, P18/1m 27.828s, P19

Both Renault drivers reported a general lack of grip as they struggled to find an ideal balance in the R29, though the team are confident they can find some solutions to the oversteer overnight. An electrical issue cost Alonso some track time in the morning, but no other problems were reported.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 28.137s, P11/1m 27.317s, P1
Robert Kubica, 1m 28.511s, P13/1m 27.398s, P15

BMW Sauber completed their planned programme, Heidfeld running KERS, Kubica not. Both complained of serious lack of grip, which was reflected in their relative positions, and though they focused on race set-up, the team were not happy with their final result.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 29.499s, P19/1m 27.479s, P16
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 28.785s, P15/1m 28.076s, P20

Bourdais had a trouble-free day that enabled him to work through his programme, and was about where he expected to be without some development parts that Red Bull had. He liked his STR4’s balance on the softer tyre, apart from some high-speed oversteer. Buemi handled his first official practice day well, and was systematically able to improve his car.

Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 27.453s, P5/1m 27.802s, P17
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 29.042s, P16/1m 27.813s, P18

For a while in the morning it looked good for McLaren, with Kovalainen up in fifth place in the thick of things, and an explanation offered for Hamilton’s slow speed when a damaged floor was discovered. However, both suffered poor grip in the second session, Hamilton reporting bottoming, and it was clear that more work needed to be done on their low-fuel fast-lap set-up. Neither had any problem with their KERS.