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Practice Three - Rosberg does it again 28 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 Renault practice pit stops.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 March 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 March 2009

For most of the final session of practice for the Australian Grand Prix, Brawn and Toyota slugged it out. With minutes to go it appeared that Jarno Trulli had done sufficient for the Japanese team, with a lap of 1m 25.811s, which had withstood the efforts of Jenson Button in the newly Virgin-liveried Brawn BGP001. The Englishman had lapped in 1m 25.981s.

Right at the end, however, Nico Rosberg shoved Williams back on top with 1m 25.808s, to settle the issue by 0.003s. Team mate Kazuki Nakajima wasn’t far behind either, with 1m 26.078s, which left him fifth behind Felipe Massa in the leading Ferrari on 1m 26.020s.

Rubens Barrichello spoiled one good lap with a minor off-course moment in his Brawn, and was left sixth on 1m 26.348s ahead of late improver Mark Webber in the Red Bull on 1m 26.355s. Then came Timo Glock who set the pace for some of the time in the second Toyota; he lapped in 1m 26.410s. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were late improvers for BMW Sauber, with 1m 26.514s and 1m 26.555s respectively, then came the slightly enhanced McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton with 1m 26.652s and 1m 26.714s.

Sebastian Vettel had a spell as fastest man before running into trouble with a loose wheel nut on his Red Bull, which necessitated a cruise back to the pits, after he had lapped in 1m 27.009s. That left him 13th, ahead of Adrian Sutil on 1m 27.062s for Force €ndia, Sebastiens Bourdais and Buemi on 1m 27.152s and 1m 27.192s respectively for Toro Rosso, and the Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet, on 1m 27.357s and 1m 27.739s, which sandwiched Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force €ndia on 1m 27.492s.

Right at the back, Kimi Raikkonen stranded himself on 1m 28.801s, which was initially very competitive, as a long and high-speed off road moment resulted in his Ferrari grinding to a halt with a hydraulic problem.

Thus the stage is set for the three 'diffuser' teams - Williams, Toyota and Brawn - to battle it out in the first qualifying session of the season, with Ferrari leading the pursuit and the times, yet again, proving incredibly close. Welcome to Formula One racing, 2009 style!