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Friday analysis - fast starters or slow burners?

13 Mar 2015

The first two free practice sessions of the season were run in consistent conditions on a dry track and temperatures which ranged between 33 and 39 degrees Celsius. Most teams were able to assess Pirelli’s hard and medium rubber and to do some race running. But which teams were really happy with their early form in Melbourne?

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, 1m 29.557s, P1/1m 27.697s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 29.586s, P2/1m 27.797s, P2

It was business as expected for Mercedes as they dominated both sessions, even though Rosberg suffered some DRS problems initially in FP2. The indications, however, were that neither of the drivers was overly satisfied with their set-ups, so more work will be needed tomorrow.

Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 31.029s, P5/1m 28.412s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 31.310s, P8/1m 28.842s, P4

Vettel said that he had a troublefree day and was generally pleased with how things went even if Mercedes were far away, while Raikkonen was happier in the afternoon after struggling with understeer in F1.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 30.748s, P3/1m 29.265s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 31.188s, P7/no time

Williams had a disappointment when Massa’s car was discovered to have a water leak once FP1 was over, but Bottas showed decent speed in both sessions and was in the thick of the fight with Ferrari for ‘best-of-the-rest.’

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 32.073s, P11/1m 30.016s, P6
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 31.570s, P10/no time

Like Williams, Red Bull lost a car for FP2 when Ricciardo’s RB11 required its Renault engine to be changed. Kyvat complained of understeer in both sessions, but did finally scrape ahead of Toro Rosso stablemate Carlos Sainz Jr in FP2.

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Jr, 1m 31.014s, P4/1m 30.071s, P7
Max Verstappen, 1m 31.067s, P6/1m 31.395s, P14

Toro Rosso had a strong opening day as Sainz proved slightly faster than Verstappen, who ran into problems with battery problems in the afternoon.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, 1m 31.451s, P9/1m 30.104s, P8
Romain Grosjean, 2m 17.782, P16/1m 30.205s, P9

The Lotus E23 Hybrid still looked edgy, and both drivers had off-road moments. Grosjean also had an hydraulic leak in FP1. But in FP2 they were both inside the top 10.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 32.261s, P13/1m 30.473s, P10
Sergio Perez, 1m 32.247s, P12/1m 30.980s, P12

As expected, their lack of test mileage hampered the Force Indias, and Hulkenberg in particular expressed himself unhappy with his VJM08’s aero balance in the afternoon.

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson, No time/1m 32.303s, P15
Felipe Nasr, No time/1m 30.755s, P11

With the ongoing legal issues with Giedo van der Garde, neither driver went out in FP1. They did run in FP2, however. Ericsson was soon down to work before a hard contact with the kerb on the exit to Turn 15 broke his C34’s left-rear suspension and ended his session. Nasr was little slower as he focused on his first official outing at an F1 race.

McLaren

Jenson Button, 1m 34.542s, P14/1m 31.387s, P13
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 34.785s, P15/1m 33.289s, P16

McLaren had a torrid time, as expected. Both drivers stopped early in FP1 with air intake problems, then Magnussen crashed his MP4-30 into the tyre wall in Turn 6 soon after the start of FP2. Later Button, who had complained of understeer and rear brake locking, reported loss of power.

Marussia

Will Stevens, No times
Roberto Merhi, No times

Though the Marussia team got their cars to the track, mismatches in the various software systems prevented them from making it out on to the track in either session as the problems were slowly traced and corrected.