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Friday analysis - the calm before the storm? 08 Oct 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 8 October 2010 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 8 October 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 8 October 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 8 October 2010 The pits at night.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 8 October 2010

A track that was still relatively green, and a drop in its temperature in the second session, gave teams plenty to think about on the first day of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. Red Bull team mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber came out on top, but Renault’s Robert Kubica displayed some impressive speed behind the RB6s. However, with the weather forecast suggesting that heavy rain might enliven proceedings on Saturday, there’s still everything to play for. We take a team-by-team look at the early progress at Suzuka…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 32.585s, P1/1m 31.465s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 32.633s, P2/1m 31.860s, P2

Red Bull had the perfect start to a race weekend, a fast and trouble-free day. Vettel said he had good pace and that he had a good feeling in the RB6, and Webber agreed that he couldn’t have asked for more as both amassed a lot of mileage. Both commented favourably on the balance of their cars.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 33.129s, P3/1m 32.200s, P3
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 34.373s, P15/1m 32.703s, P7

Kubica was happy to be third in both sessions but was cautious about being able to stay there on Saturday, while Petrov impressed again in the afternoon once he’d found a good balance.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 34.169s, P13/1m 32.362s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 33.929s, P11/1m 32.519s, P5

Alonso reminded everyone that Red Bull were beatable in Singapore, and was cautious about drawing too many conclusions from the times. He admitted that he didn’t put a perfect lap together. Massa said he thought that Red Bull were even stronger than he’d expected.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 34.042s, P12/1m 32.533s, P6
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 33.643s, P5/1m 33.481s, P13

McLaren had a horrible start to the day when Hamilton crashed shortly after setting the fastest time in the first session. He went off at the second Degner Curve and took off the left front wheel. He also damaged some new aero components. Later Button almost did the same but just got away with it, damaging the undertray as it was pounded over the kerb in Degner One. He was able to run all through the afternoon session, but Hamilton only did the last six and a half minutes.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 33.739s, P8/1m 32.831s, P8
Nico Rosberg, 1m 33.831s, P10/1m 32.880s, P11

Schumacher said he was pretty happy with the way his day went and that his MGP W01 went better than he’s expected. Rosberg lost time with a gearbox problem in the morning, and then struggled with excessive understeer in the afternoon.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 33.639s, P4/1m 32.842s, P9
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 34.379s, P16/1m 34.310s, P18

Sutil said his day went well apart from a minor technical problem that delayed his morning running, and was optimistic for the rest of the weekend. Liuzzi had yet another disappointing day, this time because of an engine-mapping problem and poor balance.

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 33.707s, P9/1m 32.851s, P10
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 33.677s, P6/1m 33.564s, P14

Hulkenberg’s progress was hampered by some electrical problems, and Barrichello’s engine developed a pneumatic leak towards the end of the afternoon session. Both drivers said they were happy with their cars’ balance, however.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 34.271s, P14/1m 33.471s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 33.791s, P9/1m 33.697s, P15

Both drivers tried new front wings in the morning and Kobayashi complained of understeer all day which quickly destroyed both the hard and soft Bridgestone tyres very quickly. Heidfeld said his C29 was okay on the primes, but went no faster on the options.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 34.991s, P17/1m 34.005s, P16
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 35.684s, P18/1m 34.055s, P17

Both drivers agreed that the STR05 had lost performance since Singapore. Alguersuari tried some new parts in the morning but spent more time than most off the road, while Buemi had a big spin in the afternoon. Neither reported any other problems, however.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 36.949s, P19/1m 36.095s, P19
Jarno Trulli, 1m 37.388s, P21/1m 36.333s, P20

Lotus had a sound day with Kovalainen and Trulli setting the new teams pace, but both complained of a general lack of grip.

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi (afternoon only), 1m 36.630s, P21
Timo Glock, 1m 37.329s, P20/1m 36.834s, P22
Jerome d’Ambrosio (morning only), 1m 37.778s, P22

Di Grassi and Glock said they were reasonably happy, but their VR-01s lost pace on the softer tyre, so more set-up work is needed for Saturday. D’Ambrosio once again did a strong job in his morning’s runs as he learned the track and ended up respectably close to Glock.

HRT
Bruno Senna, 1m 38.814s, P23/1m 37.352s, P23
Sakon Yamamoto, 1m 39.443s, P24/1m 37.831s, P24

The F110s were once again reliable, which meant Senna and Yamamoto could focus on getting the best from their set-ups. Neither had any complaints.

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