The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in Belgium: F1 Friday Practices


What Happens When Rain Ruins Practice 1 and Leaves Practice 2 Alone

Friday Practice 1:
With rain coming down midway through the first practice session, the times during Friday’s first practice were all over the chart.  The top ten managed to post fastest times simply by virtue of running in the dry. Still, though, the Belgian weather is likely to do similar things in the race Sunday, and some running in the rain (as long as the car stays on the track) will do the drivers some good.  This practice did little to determine for the outside public if the Brawn’s have regained their pace even in cool weather.  Sebastain Vettel sat out the session to save the Renault engine in his Red Bull, after two failures last weekend at Valencia.  Renault is puzzled by these failures, as “There are no objective reasons why the problems have only been with Vettel and Red Bull…the engines run in Red Bull with the same temperatures as they do in the Renault.  And Vettel’s style of driving doesn’t have anything to do with it,” said Fabrice Lom, head of the Renault customer engine program.

Final Times for Friday Practice 1:
1. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 49.675s
2. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 50.283s
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 50.368s
4. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 51.045s
5. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 51.529s
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 52.321s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 52.930s
8. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 53.383s
9. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 53.650s
10. Luca Badoer Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 55.068s
11. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Mercedes 2m 03.972s
12. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 2m 04.505s
13. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 2m 05.513s
14. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 2m 05.614s
15. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 2m 05.705s
16. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 2m 05.839s
17. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 2m 06.181s
18. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 2m 06.331s
19. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault No time
20. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes No time
(times unofficial and courtesy of Crash.net)

Friday Practice 2:

The session was slightly shortened at the beginning when a wheel fairing came off Luca Badoer’s Ferrari and required a red-flagging of the session so the debris might be removed.  Lewis Hamilton ended quickest, leading an interesting top five with Timo Glock, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, and Romain Grosjean.

To add to the Brawn cool-weather intrigue, Jenson Button had rear tire rubbing/light front tire issues through Eau Rouge and remained firmly in the middle to the back of the field, lapping seventeenth at the end.  Teammate Rubens Barrichello stayed in a similar position through the session, finishing eighteenth.  This, of course, begs the question: are they slow, or just perfecting strategy and pretending?  Meanwhile, the press is buzzing with Button’s vehement response to the question as to whether he actually wants to win the championship: “Does Jenson want this title or not?  It’s a pretty silly question, isn’t it? Why the f*** am I here? In reality, that is not the question — it can’t be.  ‘Does he want the title?’ ‘No, I want to finish second or third.”

Early on, Fernando Alonso was fastest with a 1:48.036, but was soon eclipsed by Mark Webber’s 1:47.484.  The Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli made a case for Toyota remaining in Formula1 by sticking close to the top of the timesheets.  Meanwhile, rookie Jaime Alguersuari did quite well, putting up times in the top five on what is generally considered the hardest track on the circuit.  Felipe Massa’s Ferrari replacement Luca Badoer continued to be at the bottom, two and a half seconds behind the fastest time with 15 minutes left in the session.  Still, he continues to drive for Ferrari, even after crashing into and damaging the diffuser of Adrian Sutil’s parked Force India car in parc ferme at Valencia.  Meanwhile, Williams Technical Director has said to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport that, “we would loan Nico [Rosberg] to Ferrari but I can’t imagine them agreeing to train a driver for us,” even as a replacement for Badoer.  The session ended with both Kimi Raikkonen and Jaime Alguersuari parking their cars along the side of the track.

Final (unofficial) Times for Friday Practice 2:
1. Hamilton 1:47.201
2. Glock 1:47.217
3. Raikkonen 1:47.285
4. Webber 1:47.329
5. Grosjean 1:47.333
6. Fisichella 1:47.506
7. Trulli 1:47.559
8. Kubica 1:47.578
9. Alguersuari 1:47.579
10. Vettel 1:47.602
11. Buemi 1:47.702
12. Kovalainen 1:47.743
13. Sutil 1:47.790
14. Alonso 1:47.862
15. Nakajima 1:47.961
16. Heidfeld 1:48.017
17. Button 1:48.125
18. Barrichello 1:48.130
19. Rosberg 1:48.360
20. Badoer 1:49.211

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