Friday, March 27, 2009

Prac One: Late pace sees Williams finish on top

Friday 27th March 2009

A late charge from Williams driver Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima saw them edge out pre-season favourites Ferrari and Brawn GP to lead the way in the first practice session for the Australian GP.

Report: Partly cloudy conditions and a track temperature of 25'C greeted the drivers as the 2009 F1 season kicked off with its first practice session in Melbourne, allowing teams and drivers to witness for the first time the full impact the new regulations governing the aerodynamics, as well as slick tyres and the introduction of KERS, will have on competitive lap times.

Robert Kubica was the first driver to turn a wheel in anger as the BMW driver led out the field for their installation laps. But it wasn't until almost half an hour of the session had passed before this year's only rookie driver, Seb Buemi, set the first timed lap of the day, a 1:41.493. The Swiss driver improved to a 1:33.622, while was overhauled by 1.5s by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on his first lap out.

Raikkonen moved up to a 1:28.718 before having an off-track excursion while pushing too hard. The halfway point of the session saw the Finn leading Felipe Massa, who also found himself taking to the run-off area after missing the last corner and going on straight, Nick Heidfeld, Williams' Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Timo Glock.

Button, racing for the new Brawn GP team, improved to second place before the yellow flags were waved after Sebastian Vettel stopped at Whiteford due to a hydraulic pressure problem with his Red Bull RB5. Marshals pushed his car out the way and the track returned to green.

Rubens Barrichello headed up the timesheets to take P4, giving Ferrari and Brawn GP total dominance over the top four slots on the timesheets. Heikki Kovalainen quickly put an end to it as he took third place while Mark Webber moved up to fifth. The Finn, though, moved on to overhaul Raikkonen for the top spot with a 1:27.982 but his stay was short-lived as Barrichello improved to a 1:27.743.

With half an hour remaining the top eight was led by Barrichello, followed by Kovalainen, Glock, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Button, Kazuki Nakajima and Massa while Hamilton was down in 15th place and Fernando Alonso had yet to even set a time.

Moments later Raikkonen put on the softer option Bridgestone slicks - the first driver to do so - and immediately lit up the timesheets as he posted fastest sector times in all three sectors to end with a 1:26.750, which put him back in the P1 position.

Alonso only manages 17th place on his first timed lap as his 3.5s off the pace, which slots him right behind his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr. Only the two Toro Rossos of Seb Bourdais and Buemi, as well as the stationary Vettel, are slower. Alonso improved to ninth place a few laps later while Button took second off his team-mate Barrichello.

Nakajima missed Senna as he suffered a flat right rear tyre while Piquet Jr spun his Renault at the Jones Chicane. Hamilton improved to 12th place but was still 2.2s off the pace. Barrichello joined the list of those running wide as he too missed the Jones Chicane.

Kovalainen improved to third place behind Rosberg while Nakajima moved up behind the Brawn GP cars and into sixth place.

The timesheet continued to change for the final five minutes with Rosberg putting in two fastest sector times to finish at the top with a 1:26.687. Nakajima was second followed by Raikkonen.

01 N. Rosberg Williams 1:26.687 19 laps
02 K. Nakajima Williams 1:26.736 21 laps
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:26.750 24 laps
04 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:27.226 21 laps
05 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:27.453 15 laps
06 J. Button Brawn GP 1:27.467 12 laps
07 F. Massa Ferrari 1:27.642 24 laps
08 T. Glock Toyota 1:27.710 24 laps
09 A. Sutil Force India 1:27.993 20 laps
10 F. Alonso Renault 1:28.123 16 laps
11 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:28.137 20 laps
12 J. Trulli Toyota 1:28.142 21 laps
13 R. Kubica BMW 1:28.511 22 laps
14 G. Fisichella Force India 1:28.603 16 laps
15 S. Buemi Toro Rosso 1:28.785 27 laps
16 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:29.042 18 laps
17 M. Webber Red Bull 1:29.081 7 laps
18 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:29.461 25 laps
19 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:29.499 21 laps
20 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:32.784 4 laps

Source : Planet F1

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