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Friday analysis - Brawn back in the hunt? 21 Aug 2009

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R29 with front damage after a collision with Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 (L to R): Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02 and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009

Back in the swing of things again after the summer break, the Formula One teams revelled in 30-32 Celsius track temperatures in Valencia on Friday, as they focused on their usual set-up work and tyre evaluation ahead of the European Grand Prix. Some aggressive and spectacular driving from Renault’s Fernando Alonso catapulted the Spaniard to the top of the times in front of his home crowd, but it was the improved pace of the Brawns that really caught the eye of those in the paddock. We take a team-by-team look at progress…

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 43.345s P9/1m 39.404s P1
Romain Grosjean, 1m 44.356s P17/1m 40.787s P13

Despite his inadvertent kerfuffle with Heidfeld in the afternoon, Alonso reported a positive day and an R29 that performed right from the start of practice. Rookie Grosjean played himself in and reported good progress as he acclimatised to his new role.

Brawn
Jenson Button, 1m 43.074s P4/1m 40.178s P2
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 42.460s P1/1m 40.209s P3

€ntensive theoretical work at the factory in the last few weeks, allied to a lot of real-time back-to-back assessment today and decent track temperatures saw Brawn return to competitive pace. Button said he was encouraged but that his car’s balance needed improvement, while Barrichello said it felt great to be competitive again.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 43.746s P14/1m 40.385s P4
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 43.225s P7/1m 40.503s P5

Rosberg’s day got off to a bad start when his tyres grained immediately, which left his morning session compromised. The afternoon was much better and positive set-up changes helped him to fourth fastest time. Nakajima was there or thereabouts all day, and was pleased with his short- and long-run lap times.

Force €ndia
Adrian Sutil, 1m 43.209s P6/1m 40.596s P6
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 44.126s P16/1m 40.681s P8

Force €ndia were on the pace all day, thanks to Sutil in both sessions and Fisichella in the afternoon. Both used a new aerodynamic package. Sutil said he had a few undisclosed niggles in the morning, when Fisichella had graining. Both are aiming for good Q2 times on Saturday.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 43.419s P12/1m 40.643s P7
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 44.040s P15/1m 41.350s P17

Kubica and Heidfeld had new lightweight chassis which permitted a better distribution of their ballast, and a revised aero package which comprised new engine covers and undertrays. Kubica was cautious about flagging up any improvement, while Heidfeld was distinctly unamused when Alonso clobbered him in the afternoon and nearly put him on his head.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 43.088s P5/1m 40.723s P9
Mark Webber, 1m 43.243s P8/1m 40.956s P14

Vettel said he had a smooth Friday, and that he was surprised by Alonso’s pace at the end of the afternoon session. Webber did plenty of laps, and said the team had plenty of overnight work to do.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 42.636s P2/1m 40.738s P10
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 42.654s P3/1m 43.214s P20

Kovalainen thought McLaren were in good shape after working through his programme. Hamilton said he was happy with his car in the morning and even more so in the afternoon, until snap oversteer caught him out and the resultant damage could not be repaired in time due to a lack of spares. They will be flown in overnight.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 43.384s P10/1m 40.739s P11
Luca Badoer, 1m 45.840s P20/1m 42.017s P18

Ferrari were insistent that this weekend is more of a test session than anything for Badoer, the oldest driver in the field. The €talian said it was a difficult day but was pleased not to make any serious errors. Raikkonen said his day was positive and that a podium was a realistic goal provided he can qualify well.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 44.638s P18/1m 40.770s P12
Timo Glock, 1m 44.732s P19/1m 40.985s P15

Trulli said his was a normal Friday, and Glock seemed quite happy too despite an early spin. Both got through their technical programmes without interruption.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 43.389s P11/1m 41.156s P16
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 43.637s P13/1m 42.089s P19

Both Toro Rosso drivers reported high cockpit temperatures. They tried new front wings, which worked as intended. Alguersuari said the heat was trying for him with his limited experience of F1 racing, but that his day went quite well.