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Friday analysis - Williams lead the chasing pack 17 Apr 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Renault refuelling mechanic, Massive.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Sebastian Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 April 2009

As usual, everybody went about chassis set-up work and tyre evaluation on Friday in Shanghai, the latter being particularly critical here with the need to run both Bridgestone’s medium and super-soft tyre compounds. Several drivers reported that the mediums were hard over a single lap, but that the super-soft degraded heavily during distance runs. We take a team-by-team look at progress...

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, 1m 37.450s, P2/1m 35.679s, P1
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 37.566s, P3/1m 35.881s, P3

Button was pretty pleased with the way his day went but said there is more work to do on his Brawn’s balance before qualifying. Barrichello was likewise content, but admitted to struggling on his final set of tyres in the afternoon due to all the ‘marbles’ off line.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 37.860s, P7/1m 35.704s, P2
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 38.730s, P19/1m 36.377s, P7

Rosberg praised the consistency of his Williams FW31 from track to track, and said he was happy not to be getting any surprises anymore after the team learned from their mistakes last year. Nakajima had a more difficult time as his tyres behaved strangely in the morning and he then struggled for balance in the afternoon.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 37.752s, P5/1m 36.105s, P4
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 38.274s, P12/1m 36.167s, P5

Once again Red Bull looked very strong with their ‘conventional’ car. Webber reported that his ran faultlessly, but Vettel encountered a rear suspension problem in the afternoon which forced a premature halt.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 37.764s, P6/1m 36.217s, P6
Timo Glock, 1m 37.894s, P8/1m 36.548s, P8

The TF109s featured some revised aerodynamics centred around a revised front wing and rear end. Trulli had a minor electrical problem in the morning but recovered momentum later on and was generally happy with his car’s balance. Glock said his car ran better in the afternoon.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 37.672s, P4/1m 36.674s, P9
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 37.334s, P1/1m 36.941s, P13

Both drivers had revised floors and six-plane front wings to evaluate on their MP4-24s. Sensible use of track time left others to clean the track and enabled Hamilton to set the fastest time and Kovalainen the fourth in the morning. The Finn’s comparison runs were hampered by a hydraulic problem in the front wing’s actuation system in the first session. Both drivers reported an encouraging improvement in front-end grip.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 38.195s, P10/1m 36.800s, P10
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 38.307s, P13/1m 37.219s, P15

Bourdais’s weekend got off to a strong start with 10th in both sessions. The Frenchman reported good progress understanding the STR4 but that there was still work to do. Buemi was busy learning the track and had a small, undisclosed technical problem in the morning.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.319s, P14/1m 36.829s, P11
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 38.460s, P17/1m 37.750s, P20

Sutil said he was generally pleased with the way his day went, but Fisichella was unhappy with his VJM02’s balance.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.418s, P15/1m 36.847s, P12
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 38.223s, P11/1m 37.054s, P14

On the face of it, not a great day for Ferrari as they abandoned their KERS system for the weekend. Massa said he regretted the lack of KERS, Raikkonen said he couldn’t feel any difference, but that his F60’s balance needed work. In general, both cars lacked sheer grip.

Renault
Nelson Piquet, 1m 38.825s, P20/1m 37.273s, P16
Fernando Alonso, 1m 38.089s, P9/1m 37.638s, P19

Alonso said he wasn’t too worried about lap times on Friday, and had a revised undertray to try on Saturday. He remained optimistic despite struggling to find the right set-up. Piquet improved his car as the day progressed but was still not satisfied when practice ended.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 38.463s, P18/1m 37.491s, P17
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 38.456s, P16/1m 37.544s, P18

As usual, BMW Sauber focused on race work, running KERS on both cars for the first time this year. Kubica said it was hard to get the prime tyre working, and that the option was fragile, and a decision will be made tonight whether to continue with KERS on his car tomorrow. Heidfeld had a normal day but said his F1.09’s balance needed work. Head of engineering Willy Rampf admitted that they were not satisfied with the results.