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Friday analysis - Lotus maintain their momentum 22 Mar 2013

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06 locks up.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 22 March 2013

Friday’s first free practice session in Malaysia was run in consistent conditions on a dry track with ambient temperatures ranging between 33 and 37 degrees Celsius. The second began in similar conditions, but light, then heavier, rain fell after the first hour. Teams ran the orange hard Pirelli tyre in FP1, before switching to the white medium in FP2 until the rain obliged them to try either the blue wets or the green intermediates. Here’s our team-by-team run down of the early form at Sepang…

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 37.003s, P2/1m 36.569s, P1
Romain Grosjean, 1m 37.915s, P10/1m 37.206s, P6

Lotus tried new front wings on both cars and a new exhaust and related bodywork on Raikkonen’s E21. Both cars will retain their new bits for the rest of the weekend, as they proved very beneficial and helped to maintain the strong mood of optimism in this camp. The only downside was when Raikkonen had a problem in FP1 with a sensor on his KERS battery, but he was still able to set the second-fastest time before going on to be quickest in FP2. With his car in slightly different configuration to the Finn’s, Grosjean could also be encouraged by his pace.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 37.104s, P3/1m 36.588s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 36.935s, P1/1m 37.026s, P5

Again, it was all about assessing tyre wear here, and Vettel admitted that they don’t last long. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow and Sunday to see if the team have improved that aspect of their individual performance for the race.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.319s, P4/1m 36.985s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 37.771s, P7/1m 36.661s, P3

Alonso and Massa were both buoyed by the fact that the F138 worked well in all conditions and thus underlined the promise that it showed during the winter tests. They were fast, and feel optimistic that they will be in the fight in qualifying and on Sunday afternoon.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 37.588s, P5/1m 37.448s, P7
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 37.840s, P9/1m 37.574s, P9

Neither Rosberg nor Hamilton went for a quick lap on either tyre today, preferring instead, as Hamilton had promised on Thursday, to focus all their attention today on setting up their cars for long runs.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 37.773s, P8/1m 37.571s, P8
Adrian Sutil, 1m 37.769s, P6/1m 37.788s, P10

There was reasonable optimism in this camp, as both drivers felt they had achieved a reasonable balance on their cars and done some good tyre evaluation work. Sutil missed the final part of FP2, in the rain, because of a minor oil seal problem.

McLaren
Sergio Perez, 1m 38.830s, P13/1m 37.838s, P11
Jenson Button, 1m 38.173s, P11/1m 37.865s, P12

There’ll be a lot of number-crunching going on tonight at McLaren, after Button and Perez spent the day gathering further data in a slightly improved MP4-28 which went better on the smoother Sepang track surface. Button reports that there is still a lot more work to do to make the car go faster, however. He had punctures in both sessions.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 39.054s, P14/1m 38.068s, P13
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 39.204s, P15/1m 38.645s, P14

Once again the Sauber C32 lacked quite the pace of the Force Indias, as the latter chased the top teams. Gutierrez had a cracked exhaust and then had his fire extinguisher set itself off, while both drivers had spins, Hulkenberg while coming into the pits during the rainstorm in FP2, Gutierrez out on track in FP1.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 39.284s, P17/1m 38.738s, P15
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 39.567s, P18/1m 38.904s, P17

Both drivers felt that they had productive days, focusing more on set-up work to prolong tyre life that looking for outright lap times.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 38.673s, P12/1m 38.801s, P16
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 39.208s, P16/1m 39.660s, P19

Both drivers spent the day evaluating new parts between the two FW35s, so it came as a massive disappointment to the team that all the work did not generate the anticipated improvement.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 40.996s, P20/1m 39.508s, P18
Max Chilton, 1m 41.513s, P22/1m 41.438s, P22

Heavy rear tyre wear rates affected the team’s aero programme in the morning and impacted their afternoon plans as apposite adjustments had to be made and tested, and FP2 was further interrupted by the weather. Chilton also had wear issues which hurt his run on new medium tyres.

Caterham
Charles Pic, 1m 41.163s, P21/1m 40.757s, P20
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 40.728s, P19/1m 40.768s, P21

Pic was feeling unwell initially, prompting suggestions that Alex Rossi might take over, but in the end the Frenchman ran. He and Van der Garde were evenly matched, but once again the CT03s lacked the Marussia’s new pace.

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