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Friday analysis - who will challenge in China? 16 Apr 2010

Chinese flag.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 16 April 2010

As usual, Friday was a day for learning about the behaviour of the prime and option tyres, and the handling of the cars on low and high fuel loads. We take a team-by-team look at progress in Shanghai ahead of this weekend’s Chinese event...

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.775s, P3/1m 35.217s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 36.677s, P1/1m 35.593s, P3

Hamilton said he was happy with his car’s balance, which he believed was far more relevant to his lap times than straight-line speed and F-ducts. He also said the car continued to give him the good feelings it had in Malaysia. Button echoed his sentiments, but said that he hit traffic on his afternoon run on new tyres.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.748s, P2/1m 35.465s, P2
Michael Schumacher, 1m 37.509s, P4/1m 35.602s, P4

Mercedes GP had a revised aero package which included a new rear wing, and both drivers liked it. Rosberg worried about oversteer in the afternoon, while Schumacher suffered a puncture on his left rear prime tyre in the morning, and thus had to use one from his afternoon allocation. The German felt that the team had made a small step forward.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 37.601s, P5/1m 35.791s, P5
Mark Webber, 1m 37.980s, P8/1m 35.995s, P6

Vettel reported a good, productive day, as did Webber who was gratified to have had a really clean Friday.

Force India
Adrian Sutil 1m 38.008s, P9/1m 36.254s, P7
Vitantonio Liuzzi (pm), 1m 37.804s, P16
Paul di Resta (am) 1m 38.618s, P15

Sutil said he had a good day with no problems. Liuzzi only ran in the afternoon, and lost downforce after sliding over a kerb and damaging his VJM03’s undertray. When that was fixed the traction worsened when he tried the soft tyres, but that turned out to be a factor of a set-up misunderstanding by the crew. Di Resta again acquitted himself well during his morning run, when conditions were at their trickiest before the track cleaned up, apart from flat-spotting a tyre.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 38.161s, P11/1m 36.377s, P8
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 39.939, P17/no time

Buemi had an unnerving day, which began with a brake fluid leak and then ended with that extraordinary incident at the end if the back straight in the morning session when the right front upright broke, followed simultaneously by the left in shock-load sympathy, which had the effect of throwing off both of the Toro Rosso’s front wheels. He was lucky not to hit the wall too hard, but was not able to get out again for the afternoon session. Alguersuari, by contrast, had a smooth run and got all of his work done on the way to the eighth-fastest time.

Robert Kubica, 1m 37.716s, P6/1m 36.389s, P9
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 37.745s, P7/1m 36.986s, P12

Kubica was happy in the morning but said they found even better direction during the afternoon and better balance on the R30. Overall, however, he said they lacked grip, especially on low-fuel runs when the tyres were less loaded. Petrov had a good day and was happy with his car’s balance.

Fernando Alonso, no time/1m 36.604s, P10
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.098s, P10/1m 36.944s, P11

Ferrari’s day began badly with an engine failure for Alonso after only six laps in the morning. It was the unit changed after qualifying in Bahrain which was already a little suspect. The Spaniard resumed in the afternoon, working on aero programmes revolving around Ferrari’s own version of the F-duct. The team said they were happy with the data accrued. Massa had an uneventful day focused mainly on race set-up work.

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 38.421s, P13/1m 37.421s, P13
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 38.375s, P12/1m 37.431s, P14

BMW Sauber ran their F-duct again and used the day virtually as a test day according to De la Rosa.

Rubens Barrichello, 1m 38.678s, P16/1m 37.657s, P15
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.569s, P14/1m 37.867s, P17

Barrichello worked through set-ups and evaluation of some aero modifications, and admitted that Williams run their Cosworth engines ‘quite safe’ on Fridays, so that the times were as he expected. Hulkenberg said he had a few problems to solve before Saturday, without saying what they were.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 41.531s, P18/1m 39.624s, P18
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 41.779s, P19/1m 39.947s, P19

Both drivers complained of a lack of rear-end grip until the track rubbered in, and Kovalainen lost a little time at the end of the afternoon session when his car gave him the low oil pressure warning light and the engine switched itself off. Trulli said he was still struggling for a perfect balance, but both drivers were relatively satisfied.

Timo Glock, 1m 41.830s, P20/1m 40.233s, P20
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 42.181s, P21/1m 41.107s, P22

Glock damaged his front wing after the team incorrectly estimated the front ride height on his VR-01 and got caught out by the big bump in Turn One. Thereafter things were trouble free for both drivers, but the team admitted to struggling slightly in the low-speed corners.

Karun Chandhok, 1m 43.949s, P23/1m 41.008s, P21
Bruno Senna, 1m 43.875s, P22/1m 41.345s, P23

Once again the HRTs proved reliable and neither driver reported any mechanical problems, though Chandhok experienced some tyre graining in the first session.