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Friday analysis - Suzuka casts its slippery spell 05 Oct 2012

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Ciaron Pilbeam (GBR) Red Bull Racing Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams Renault FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 The car of Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 is recovered to the pits after crashing in the second practice session.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Caterham CT01 crashed in the second practice session when his rear wing fell off.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice, Suzuka, Japan, Friday, 5 October 2012

Two practice sessions in consistent conditions were welcomed by the teams, who were thus able to conduct all of their usual tyre testing and long-run lappery without interruption from the weather. The indications are that the times are so close that everyone will have to wring everything out of their packages to maximise performance. The accidents which befell Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher in the Spoon Curve showed how important it was not to get a wheel in the dirt as the track rubbered in. The indications are that tyre management will be crucial in the race, as many drivers reported chunking of the right-rear option tyre…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 34.856s, P3/1m 32.493s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 36.366s, P17/1m 32.836s, P3

Both drivers felt that the RB8 was performing, but each complained that the balance wasn’t quite there. Vettel said his car was more nervous in the morning, but that they need to take a step forward overnight in order to stay on the pace for qualifying.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 34.740s, P2/1m 32.707s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 34.507s, P1/1m 33.349s, P7

Hamilton said that he could have matched Webber’s time with an optimal lap and that he felt comfortable in his MP4-27, which was the best McLaren he’d ever driven here. Button was happy in the morning but less so in the afternoon and said that the balance of his car wasn’t quite there. Both think they will be close to the front tomorrow, but expect the times to be very tight.

Sahara Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 35.474s, P9/1m 32.987s, P4
Paul di Resta, 1m 35.299s, P8/No time, P24

Hulkenberg said he was happy with his VJM05 on a light fuel load but that more work was needed for race trim. Di Resta was happy with the balance of his car in FP1, before rueing the mistake that cost him all of FP2.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 35.484s, P11/1m 33.093s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 35.283s, P7/1m 33.614s, P9

Alonso said his F2012 felt reasonably good, while Massa said he was quite happy with the way his day had gone. It was the usual cautious stuff from the Scuderia on a Friday.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 35.724s, P14/1m 33.107s, P6
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 35.691s, P13/1m 34.291s, P14

Both E20s ran new front wings and the Singapore floor, while Grosjean tried a new rear wing in FP2, but the team have given up here with their double DRS, ‘the Device’, as they had trouble getting it to switch on fully. Grosjean reported that his car felt much better in FP2, but Raikkonen lost a lot of time due to a KERS malfunction.

Williams
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 33.499s, P8
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 35.478s, P10/1m 34.300s, P15
Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 36.389s, P18

Williams had a productive and extremely busy couple of sessions as Maldonado and Senna ran different programmes as they successfully evaluated a number of new components. Both felt that they established a good baseline set-up for the remainder of the weekend.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 35.122s, P5/1m 33.750s, P10
Nico Rosberg, 1m 35.059s, P4/1m 33.866s, P11

Mercedes had a trying day. Rosberg stopped towards the end of FP1 when his engine shut itself down after getting signals that the oil pressure was fading. He missed much of FP2 as the engine was changed. Schumacher, meanwhile, crashed heavily at Spoon Curve in FP2 after putting the right-rear wheel in the dirt.

Sauber
Sergio Perez 1m 35.584s, P12/1m 33.903s, P12
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 35.199s, P6/1m 33.983s, P13

Both drivers ran new front wings and both had minor off-track moments. They said that they know how to make the C31 faster for tomorrow, and reported that they’d had positive days.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 36.123s, P15/1m 34.863s, P16
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 36.222s, P16/1m 35.080s, P17

Neither driver reported any problems. Ricciardo was happy that his race pace was strong, while Vergne was pleased with his performance on his first visit to one of the toughest tracks on the calendar.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen (pm only), 1m 35.711s, P18
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 38.295s, P20/1m 35.870s, P19
Giedo van der Garde (am only), 1m 39.374s, P23

Kovalainen said he was happy with the way his afternoon went, while Van der Garde was pleased to have carried out his intended programme in the morning in the Finn’s car. The team appeared to have a more cohesive run plan than had been evident in Singapore. Petrov, however, had a problem at the end of FP2 when, for reasons as yet unidentified, his CT01 lost its rear wing in Turn 1, spinning him into the gravel.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 37.716s, P19/1m 36.194s, P20
Charles Pic, 1m 38.616s, P21/1m 36.636s, P21

Glock ran a new floor but said that the balance of his MR01 was poor in FP1 and better in FP2. He also said that, having followed KERS-equipped cars here, he felt that Marussia are at a decided disadvantage here without it. Pic was happy, having sampled the track for the first time and ran close to his team mate.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 39.688s, P24/1m 37.342s, P22
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 39.043s, P22/1m 37.701s, P23

De la Rosa and Karthikeyan reported favourably on a new floor and said that they’d had positive days working on their usual programmes.

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