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Friday analysis - all to play for in rainy Melbourne 26 Mar 2010

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Lucas di Grassi (BRA) Virgin Racing VR-01 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010

The track rubbered in quite quickly during the morning session at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Friday, but the edgy weather in the afternoon was something of a nightmare for the teams as they sought to fine tune their cars ahead of Saturday’s all-important qualifying session…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 27.783s, P7/1m 25.801s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 27.482s, P3/1m 26.076s, P2

Both drivers said they were much happier with the balance and grip of their MP4-25s than they had been in Bahrain, and that their weekends had got off to promising starts as a result.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 28.683s, P14/1m 26.248s, P3
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 27.686s, P5/1m 29.134s, P16

Webber said he was quite happy with the way things went, except for the problems associated with the unsettled weather in the afternoon. Vettel went off briefly in the afternoon and into the gravel when he slid sideways after missing his braking point in Turn Six. Only his pride was damaged. Both drivers felt they were in the ballpark.

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, 1m 28.550s, P12/1m 26.511s, P4
Nico Rosberg, 1m 27.126s, P2/1m 26.956s, P10

Rosberg looked strong in the morning but Ross Brawn admitted that they went the wrong way on set-up on his car in the afternoon. By contrast Schumacher struggled in the morning, partly because of the red-flag interruptions. In the afternoon he was much happier after changes to his car’s set-up and for the first time in 2010 looked like his old self.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 28.114s, P9/1m 26.732s, P5
Robert Kubica, 1m 26.927s, P1/ 1m 27.108s, P11

Petrov learned the track in the morning, then went out as early as possible in the afternoon to get in a good time before it rained. Kubica was fastest in the morning, and happy about it, and did some running on intermediates in the afternoon just to gather potentially valuable data.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 28.104s, P14/1m 26.832s, P6
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 28.572, P13/1m 30.510s, P19

Buemi said he was quite happy with his STR5, which seemed much more competitive than it had been in Bahrain. Alguersuari loved the track on first acquaintance and said he’d made a positive start to his weekend.

Force India
Adrian Sutil (pm) 1m 26.834s, P7
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 28.192, P10/1m 26.835s, P8
Paul di Resta (am) 1m 28.537s, P11

All three drivers did well. Di Resta impressed on his first appearance at a Grand Prix, taking over Sutil’s slot in the morning. Liuzzi was fast then, and again in the afternoon, and lost out to Sutil literally in the dying moments, by a thousandth of a second. He complained of traffic then, but said otherwise he was content with his day’s work. Sutil said sharing track time wasn’t ideal, but that the findings were otherwise positive.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 29.712s, P19/1m 26.904s, P9
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 30.249s, P17/1m 27.545s, P14

Barrichello was pleased with the timing of his afternoon runs but said a lot of work remained to be done to stand a chance of reaching Q3 during Saturday’s qualifying. Hulkenberg said he felt comfortable with both the track and the car after his first taste of Albert Park.

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 29.405s, P15/1m 27.108s, P12
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 31.588s, P18/1m 27.455s, P13

De la Rosa said his C29 felt a lot better than it had in Bahrain, and his only real problem came when he baulked, and was nearly hit by, Button in the afternoon. Kobayashi hit a marker in the morning session and brought out the first red flag when he lost his front wing as a result. Later he brought out the second when the replacement wing detached itself. In the afternoon he complained of lack of grip.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 27.747s, P6/1m 29.025s, P15
Felipe Massa, 1m 27.511s, P4/1m 29.591s, P17

Despite his lowly afternoon position, Alonso said he wasn’t unhappy with his day’s work, and that his one main regret was lack of time on the softer tyre. Massa said that second session was difficult because of the changing conditions

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 31.654s, P20/1m 29.860s, P18
Jarno Trulli, 1m 31.652s, P19/1m 30.695s, P20

Lotus showed a solid upturn in pace. Kovalainen had a differential problem in the morning but went a lot better in the afternoon, to ‘win’ the new team honours. Trulli went well in the morning to pip his team mate fractionally, but said things were less positive in the afternoon.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 34.925s, P24/1m 32.117s, P21
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 32.831s, P21/no time, P22

Glock had a gearbox oil leak in the morning and lost plenty of track time, and then the weather compromised him in the afternoon. Di Grassi did 25 laps in the morning but then had a gearbox oil-line problem and a real-time telemetry sensor failure in the afternoon which kept him in the garage.

HRT
Bruno Senna, 1m 33.401s, P22/no time, P23
Karun Chandhok, 1m 34.251s, P23/no time, P24

Senna accumulated HRT’s first Grand Prix distance if you added together his Bahrain and Melbourne laps, and went quite well in the morning. Unfortunately, he then experienced fuel pressure problems and did not run in the afternoon. Chandhok went well in the morning as he added to his experience, but then a gearbox problem stranded his car as he tried to leave the pits in the afternoon.