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Friday analysis - more to come from quietly confident Red Bull? 08 Apr 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) HRT F111. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011

As usual teams focused mainly on learning about set-up, actuation of their drag reduction rear wins, KERS and how differently the Pirelli tyres behaved in the heat of Sepang on Friday. They also had two extra sets per driver of super-hard development tyres to try…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 37.651s, P1/1m 36.876s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 41.627s, P17/1m 37.090s, P4

Webber was fastest by a country mile in Practice One and by a whisker in Practice Two, and both he and Vettel (who spent the morning on hard tyres) were at pains to sound nonchalant about their day. The RB7s were reliable, but neither made any comment about how their KERS was working.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 40.927s, P12/1m 36.881s, P2
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.316s, P2/1m 37.010s, P3

Both McLaren drivers struggled to get their MP4-26s balanced in the morning session, Button in particular being very unhappy, but the team found a really good set-up in the afternoon that put them much closer to the Red Bulls and led to a distinct air of optimism in the garage.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 39.791s, P3/1m 38.088s, P5
Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.646s, P10/1m 38.565s, P8

Schumacher was guardedly optimistic after a reasonable day, but Rosberg suggested there were still several issues that remained unsolved.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 40.453s, P6/1m 38.089s, P6
Fernando Alonso, 1m 40.601s, P9/1m 38.583s, P9

Ferrari continued to struggle for pace in Sepang, as Massa outshone Alonso for a change. Neither found a decent balance, and the glum Spaniard predicts a tough weekend if they can’t come up with a better set-up on Friday night. Low grip and high tyre degradation compounded their problems.

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 40.525s, P7/1m 38.570s, P8
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 47.932s, P24/1m 39.267s, P13

Renault extricated themselves pretty well from a sticky situation, after Heidfeld and Petrov both suffered dramatic front suspension upright problems in Practice One. Heidfeld’s locked the right front wheel solid but he was able to make it back to the pits; Petrov’s failed quite spectacularly when it shattered the left-front wheel and spun him into the gravel. Both ran in the afternoon once the problem had been traced to a material defect in a specific batch and they reverted to an older source, but inevitably they lost valuable track time.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 40.770s, P13/1m 38.846s, P10
Sebastien Buemi (Practice Two only), 1m 40.115s, P18
Daniel Ricciardo (Practice One only) 1m 40.748s, P12

Ricciardo again did a good job in the morning, providing good feedback on KERS deployment, while Alguersuari was very happy with 10th fastest time in the afternoon but still felt there was room for improvement. Buemi’s best lap was spoiled by yellow flags.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 40.443s, P5/1m 38.968s, P11
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 40.581s, P8/1m 39.187s, P12

Maldonado was Williams’ pacesetter, and was fastest at one stage in the afternoon before spinning into a hoarding as he entered the pits. There were some minor issue with the KERS in the morning, but the team were able to evaluate a new front wing. Barrichello said he was still unhappy with his set-up in the afternoon.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 40.872s, P14/1m 39.398s, P14
Sergio Perez, 1m 41.642s, P18/1m 39.603s, P15

The C30s were losing three-tenths in the first couple of corners and some more time in the middle sector, and neither driver felt the balance was ideal.

Force India
Paul di Resta (Practice Two only), 1m 39.625s, P16
Adrian Sutil, 1m 40.734s, P11/1m 39.809s, P17
Nico Hulkenberg (Practice One only), 1m 40.377s, P4

Di Resta again lost valuable running time in Practice One as the team ran Hulkenberg, but bounced back to beat Sutil in the afternoon after the German had run off track at one stage. The German had some KERS problems in the morning and then some difficulties with his VJM04’s downshift, while the Scottish rookie said he had a productive session doing the difficult tyre evaluation work.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 42.154s, P19/1m 40.866s, P19
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 42.540s, P20/No time

Virgin had a good and bad day. Glock was fastest of what we used to call the ‘new’ teams and said he was generally happy with his MVR-02’s performance in the afternoon, but D’Ambrosio suffered a front-right suspension breakage when a clevis pin sheared in the morning, and thus missed the afternoon session.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 41.620s, P16/1m 41.890s, P20
Heikki Kovalainen, (Practice Two only) 1m 44.886s, P23
Davide Valsecchi (Practice One only) 1m 44.054s, P21

Lotus also had a mixed day. Valsecchi made his official test driver debut and said he was happy with his performance as he avoided taking Kovalainen’s car to the limit. Trulli was happy in the morning, less so in the afternoon when he said that traffic masked his true pace. In that session Kovalainen spent most of the time in the car with a differential problem.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 46.627s, P23/1m 43.197s, P21
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 45.228s, P22/1m 43.991s, P22

The F111’s ran with the latest noses and front wings, but Karthikeyan lost track time in the morning when his Cosworth engine blew out a cloud of oil smoke; it transpired that inexperienced mechanics had overfilled the system, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Liuzzi looked good in the afternoon, but lost time when his car cut out and had to be retrieved from Turn Nine.

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