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Friday analysis - Williams and Ferrari turn up the heat 03 Apr 2009

Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 Ferrari investigate a possible KERS problem with the Ferrari F2009 of Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009 The car of Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02 on a truck after a crash in practice.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 3 April 2009

Friday’s two practice sessions at Sepang produced encouraging signs that Brawn GP are unlikely to have things all their own way in this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, as Ferrari and Williams set the pace. On a track likely to be better suited to the KERS runners than Albert Park, the teams focused on their usual tyre evaluation and chassis set-up work, with track temperatures hitting a heady 42 degrees Celsius. We take a team-by-team look at progress...

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 36.646s P6/1m 35.707s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 36.561s, P5/1m 35.832s, P2

Ferrari had a positive day, with Raikkonen and Massa setting the fastest times overall as they dominated the second session. Certainly their KERS were helping them to get down the main straights very quickly, though Raikkonen had a problem with his in the morning when the batteries short-circuited. Massa complained of understeer in high-speed corners and oversteer in the low-speed turns, but said his car got better as the day progressed and the temperature rose.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 36.747s, P9/1m 35.954s, P3
Mark Webber, 1m 36.703s, P8/ 1m 36.026s, P5

Vettel was pleased with the precautions he had taken to ensure that parts of his anatomy remained cool out on the track, and said he generally had a smooth day as he bagged third-fastest time in the afternoon. Webber had a much better time than he did last week in Australia, and was very close to his team mate.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.260s, P1/1m 36.015s, P4
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 36.305s, P2/1m 36.290s, P8

Rosberg and Nakajima dominated the first session with the two quickest laps right at the end. The German was happy with the way things went in the afternoon too, though he lost a good lap when Fisichella brought out the yellows in sector three. Nakajima also made positive noises.

Brawn GP
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 36.487s, P4/1m 36.161s, P6
Jenson Button, 1m 36.430s, P3/1m 36.254s, P7

There were no fireworks from Brawn today, as Barrichello and Button set about learning their cars’ behaviour in such hot track conditions. Both struggled to balance out understeer, and said that the BGP001 was not yet handling as crisply as it had in Melbourne. A precautionary gearbox change for Barrichello after the sessions means a five-place grid drop come Sunday.

Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 38.483s, P20/1m 36.397s, P9
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.669s, P7/1m 36.515s, P11

Most of McLaren’s day was taken up with the fallout of Hamilton’s disqualification from third place in last week’s Australian Grand Prix, and the subsequent suspension of sporting director Dave Ryan. Kovalainen undertook evaluation of new bodywork in the morning but lost time after flat-spotting a tyre. Hamilton likewise tried the new bodywork and reported that his car was better than he expected, but still lacked grip in the high-speed corners.

Nelson Piquet, 1m 37.199s, P14/1m 36.401s, P10
Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.395s, P16/1m 36.640s, P15

Alonso was still not feeling great after getting an ear infection on Thursday. He played second fiddle to Piquet, who said he had a good day with no major problems. He obviously didn’t count the right front wheel failure, which pitched him into the gravel in the morning session.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 36.982s, P11/1m 36.516s, P12
Timo Glock, 1m 36.980s, P10/1m 36.639s, P14

Toyota kept their powder dry by concentrating mainly on race set-up work rather than lap times. Both drivers spun, but while Trulli was optimistic about finding a good set-up for on Saturday, Glock said his TF109 didn’t feel quite right and was troubled by instability. He was feeling more positive by the end of the second session.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 37.634s, P17/1m 36.628s, P13
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 38.022s, P19/1m 37.278s, P18

Buemi made the most of his GP2 experience of Sepang and was quite happy with the way his day went. Bourdais was fairly content with the balance of his car.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 37.241s, P15/1m 36.875s, P16
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 37.025s, P12/1m 37.432s, P19

Sutil said he had a problem-free day which enabled him to focus on set-up work, but didn’t like the understeer his VJM02 had in the high-speed corners. Fisichella complained of locking front brakes, poor grip and poor traction, and then the team complained about him crashing his car in the afternoon.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 37.039s, P13/1m 37.267s, P17
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 37.640s, P18/1m 37.930s, P20

Like Toyota, BMW Sauber did their usual trick of focusing on race set-up work, so not too much should be read into their relative lap times and positions. Heidfeld tried KERS in the morning and ran without it in the afternoon, to effect a comparison. No decision has yet been made whether to run it for the race. Kubica had one off-course moment, but otherwise gathered plenty of useful information on Bridgestone’s hard and soft tyre compounds.