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Practice Two - Williams lead Brawn and Toyota, as big guns struggle 27 Mar 2009

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Brawn GP 001 diffuser
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 runs wide.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 27 March 2009

The three teams who were protested on Thursday had the last laugh in Friday’s second practice session at Albert Park, as only Mark Webber in his Red Bull was able to get among the Williams, Toyota and Brawn cars with their trick diffusers.

As Nico Rosberg once again set the pace for Williams with a lap of 1m 26.053s, which was way below Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 pole position time of 1m 26.714s despite all the regulation changes, Ferrari were left 10th and 11th, BMW Sauber14th and 15th and McLaren 17th and 18th.

Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock, Webber, Adrian Sutil, Kazuki Nakajima, Heikki Kovalainen, Rosberg and Jenson Button all had turns at the top of the timesheets, some more than once, before Rosberg finally settled the issue.

Rubens Barrichello edged out Jarno Trulli for second as things got a little scrappy with all 20 cars on track in the closing minutes. The Brazilian’s lap of 1m 26.157s supplanted Trulli’s 1m 26.350s. Webber managed 1m 26.370s in the first ‘conventional’ car (if anything from Adrian Newey can be termed thus), and then came Button with 1m 26.374s. He inadvertently blocked Nakajima’s last effort when they had a misunderstanding about road space, the Japanese driver having to be content with 1m 26.560s which left him seventh behind Glock on 1m 26.443s.

It was not a great day for Sebastian Vettel. After his problem in the earlier session, he lapped in 1m 26.740s before he put a wheel on the grass under braking for Turn 3 and spun out of action after the first half hour.

Behind him, Sutil took ninth with the Force India on 1m 27.040s, ahead of leading Ferrari driver Felipe Massa on 1m 27.064s and his team mate Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 27.204s. The red cars were the leading KERS runners.

Fernando Alonso took his Renault round in 1m 27.232s to pip Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella on 1m 27.282s, then came the gripless BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld (KERS, 1m 27.317s) and Robert Kubica (non-KERS, 1m 27.398s). Sebastien Bourdais was 16th in his Toro Rosso on 1m 27.479s, ahead of the troubled McLarens of Kovalainen (1m 27.802s) and Hamilton (1m 27.813s). Damage to the floor of Hamilton’s car was discovered after the earlier session, but it went no better after repairs. Like the Ferraris and the BMW Saubers, the ‘silver arrows’ lacked grip, as off-road moments for Massa, Raikkonen, Kovalainen and Hamilton attested.

Nelson Piquet was 19th in his Renault on 1m 27.828s, with rookie Sebastien Buemi 20th for Toro Rosso on 1m 28.076s.

It was thus a triumphant day for Williams, but Brawn and Toyota have similar pace, and Red Bull could take heart from a strong performance by their local boy, while Force India were very happy with Sutil. The rest looked poleaxed, to varying degrees, though with just two seconds covering the entire field, things could well appear quite different in 24 hours’ time.