F1: Sutil Fastest in First Bahrain Practice, Rosberg and Schumacher 1st and 3rd in Second Practice

What Happens When the Caffeine Still Hasn’t Kicked In

7:58am EST — After a first practice with Adrian Sutil continuing Force India’s quick pace in practices from last season, Nico Rosberg posted the fastest time in the second Friday practice session in his Mercedes, with teammate Michael Schumacher third fastest.  Lewis Hamilton, Schumacher, Jenson Button, and Sebastian Vettel, with nine world championships between them, rounded out the top five.  As is usual, it is difficult to say whether these standings will remain in place for race pace, as last season’s fastest cars in practice almost never won or podiumed.  Read further for both sets of times and analysis…

First Practice Times:
1. Sutil, 1:56.583, 18 Laps
2. Alonso,1:56.766 + 0.183, 18 Laps
3. Kubica, 1:57.041 + 0.458, 19 Laps
4. Massa, 1:57.055 + 0.472, 19 Laps
5. Button, 1:57.068 + 0.485, 19 Laps
6. Hamilton, 1:57.163 + 0.580, 19 Laps
7. Liuzzi, 1:57.194 + 0.611, 19 Laps
8. Rosberg, 1:57.199 + 0.616, 15 Laps
9. Webber, 1:57.255 + 0.672, 17 Laps
10. Schumacher, 1:57.662 + 1.079, 16 Laps
11. Alguersuari, 1:57.722 + 1.139, 18 Laps
12. Hulkenberg, 1:57.894 + 1.311, 20 Laps
13. Vettel, 1:57.943 + 1.360, 17 Laps
14. Buemi, 1:58.399 + 1.816, 13 Laps
15. Barrichello, 1:58.782 + 2.199, 11 Laps
16. Petrov, 1:58.880 + 2.297, 13 Laps
17. de la Rosa, 2:00.250 + 3.667, 18 Laps
18. Kobayashi, 2:01.388 + 4.805, 11 Laps
19. Glock, 2:03.680 + 7.097, 8 Laps
20. Kovalainen, 2:03.848 + 7.265, 21 Laps
21. Trulli, 2:03.970 + 7.387, 15 Laps
22. di Grassi, no time, 2 Laps
23. Senna, no time, 3 Laps
24. Chandhok, no time, no Laps

Second Friday Practice Times (courtesy of official F1 website timing and scoring):
1. Rosberg, 1:55.409, 23 Laps
2. Hamilton, 1:55.854 +.445, 22 Laps
3. Schumacher, 1:55.903 +.494, 23 Laps
4. Button, 1:56.076 +.667, 28 Laps
5. Vettel, 1:56.459 +1.050, 18 Laps
6. Hulkenberg, 1:56.501 +1.092, 26 Laps
7. Massa, 1:56.555 +1.146, 30 Laps
8. Petrov, 1:56.750 +1.341, 26 Laps
9. Alonso, 1:57.140 +1.731, 25 Laps
10. de la Rosa, 1:57.255 +1.846, 24 Laps
11. Kobayashi, 1:57.352 +1.943, 27 Laps
12. Sutil, 1:57.361 +1.952, 29 Laps
13. Barrichello, 1:57.452 +2.043, 21 Laps
14. Liuzzi, 1:57.833 +2.424, 29 Laps
15. Kubica, 1:58.155 +2.746, 29 Laps
16. Alguersuari, 1:59.799 +4.390, 31 Laps
17. Webber, 2:00.444 +5.035, 12 Laps
18. Kovalainen, 2:00.873 +5.464, 23 Laps
19. Trulli, 2:00.990 +5.581, 14 Laps
20. Glock, 2:02.037 +6.628, 3 Laps
21. di Grassi, 2:02.188 +6.779, 21 Laps
22. Senna, 2:06.968 +11.559, 17 Laps
23. Buemi, no time, 1 Lap
Chandhok, no time

There was a lot of time in the garages for most teams during Practice 2, with even Lewis Hamilton claiming his (hard compound) rear tires were “destroyed” after four laps of running.  With a half hour into the second session, Sebastian Vettel had been off the track and on again, and in an animated conversation with his Red Bull engineer while the mechanics looked to be working on the front brakes.  Three drivers still had not posted any laps, including Sebastien Buemi, Karun Chandhok, and Timo Glock.  The HRT, which had no testing experience, managed to get Bruno Senna’s car on track, but Chandhok said that there were clutch problems and that he likely wouldn’t be running on Friday, after the team working all night to get Senna’s car on-track.  When Senna posted his first few laps, he made the gap between fastest Nico Rosberg (1:55.409) and his own time (209.115) fourteen seconds.

Halfway through the hour and a half session, the Force India cars were being fueled for a long run, and Rosberg continued his lead of the timesheets, with Hamilton, Schumacher, Button, and Petrov as the top five.  The Renault seems to have woken up a bit from poor testing performance with Petrov’s speed and Robert Kubica’s third position at the end of practice 1.  Just after halfway, Red Bull’s woes continued, with Mark Webber also staying in the garage and Adrian Newey’s expression looking quite unhappy.  Jaime Alguersuari provided a bit of excitement by very narrowly missing the Armco in a bit of an off.  Franz Todt was visibly relieved (and, possibly a bit impressed!).

With a half hour left in the session, only Chandhok’s HRT had not posted a lap, as the top five remained the same adn all of htem out on the circuit.  The spread from first to twenty-first (Buemi and Glock had been or were out, but had not posted any times) remained fourteen seconds.  Vettel returned to the track to set a then fifth-place time of 1:56.459 after a slight off on the final corner.  Glock soon moved up to eighteenth.

“You can feel, it doesn’t feel quick…I had the feeling that the car wouldn’t stop…generally, it’s just a bad feeling all around,” said Vettel on the team radio while back in the garage with 20+ minutes left in the session.  That does not bode well for the 2009 championship runner-ups.

There is talk of the 107% rule returning because the slowest cars are so much slower, but the entire field is quite spread out, with only the top four under a second slower than the fastest time set by Rosberg with twenty minutes left.  Fifth through tenth were between one and two seconds slower, eleventh and twelfth were +2 seconds slower, thirteenth (Fernando Alonso) was 3.6 seconds slower than Rosberg, fourteenth through sixteenth were four seconds slower, while eighteenth through twenty-third were nine to twelve seconds slower.  While the slow cars are lapping quite a bit slower, the mid-pack is running about the same amount slower than the leaders as the last place qualifiers last season.

With ten minutes left, two-thirds of the field was on-track.  Alonso quietly made his way up from thirteenth to ninth as teammate Massa was seventh fastest with two and a half minutes to go.  At McLaren, the left rear tire changer had, in multiple pitstop practices, some speed issues, namely being slower than his teammates when changing tires.  At the very end, after the session was completed but before all the final times were set, the wheel nut came off the right rear of Senna’s HRT, forcing the safety car to be deployed, leaving the top four as they were for most of the session.  The gaps had tightened up, with the top twenty-one cars under seven seconds apart, as Senna’s HRT was a lonely nearly-twelve seconds slower than Rosberg before coming apart.  Practice for the season opening GP of Bahrain resumes Saturday morning before qualifying later that day.


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s