Friday practice: teams round-up

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Melbourne, free practice, 2008

Kimi Raikkonen says he wasn’t happy with his Ferrari but I think he might be bluffing. Williams are concerned about reliability and rumours say McLaren have a problem with one of their cars.

Honda reckon they’re as quick as any one bar Ferrari and McLaren, now they have their new aerodynamic upgrade. And BMW said they were in the bottom of the times sheets because everyone else was running more fuel. Here are my thoughts on how the teams are shaping up for the first race of the year.

Ferrari – Unhappy?

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of all but said:

I am not very happy with the way practice went. This morning we found some good settings for the car, but in the afternoon, we struggled and our laptimes reflect that.

We must look carefully at the data to work out how to improve the car. We have seen that if we manage to find the right set-up, we have the potential to be competitive.

It looks as though the team are having trouble getting the soft compounds tyres to work, but as more rubber goes down on the track I expect it to suit the Ferraris better.

McLaren – Gearbox worries

McLaren are apparently concerned about the reliability of the gearboxes on one of their cars, although it isn’t clear which. One of their drivers might have to take a five-place grid penalty.

BMW – Expect to be quicker

Nick Heidfeld stopped with car trouble in the first session. In the second he was on the bottom half of the time sheet, but thought the team would be quicker later:

I assume some of the cars which are higher up on the result sheet were lighter than us.

Williams – Lots of problems

Nico Rosberg suffered car problems in each of the sessions – both Williams cars were delayed by gearbox problems in the first session and Rosberg had differential problems in the later session. The car’s quick, but is it too fragile?

Renault – Penalty for Piquet?

Nelson Piquet’s had a gearbox change – doesn’t that mean he has to drop five places? Pay Symonds said:

Nelson spun in the first session and our analysis showed there could be damage to the gearbox, so we had to change that.

Red Bull – Webber cautious

After ending the second practice session second Mark Webber was keen to down-play expectations:

We know not to read too much into it. We’re not second quickest. We’re still fighting for the back of the points.

Scuderia Toro Rosso – Waiting for the track to come to them

Sebastian Vettel expects changing track conditions to help them:

There are two or three areas where we can improve tomorrow and then we will see where we are. The tyres usually suffer a lot on a green track, but actually the high temperatures probably helped them today. But once the track is in good shape, it might begin to hurt the tyres.

Toyota – Trulli’s spin a setback

Toyota’s Dieter Gass was frustrated at the time lost to Trulli’s spin:

Overall it was a positive day for us but the sessions did not go without problems. It was a pity that Jarno spun because he was on a long run and we were collecting tyre data. We also had a problem with a wheel bearing on Timo’s car this morning which is why he had to stop slightly early.

Honda – Aiming for the top half

Honda’s head of race and test engineering Steve Clark said the team were aiming for the top half of the grid:

Our absolute performance relative to our competitors remains to be confirmed, however the aero upgrade for this race seems to be performing well and it has put us on the pace of all but the top two teams.

Super Aguri – More problems

Very little running for Super Aguri. According to Anthony Davidson:

We had planned a limited programme anyway, but then we had to cut short our run in the afternoon. I hope that we can get to grips with the car more tomorrow and move on from there.

The team said:

We exceeded a design parameter and we once again encountered some issues with cooling, so we need to address these areas this evening to allow us to complete a few more miles tomorrow.

Force India – flattering to deceive?

Giancarlo Fisichella was an impressive ninth in the second session – but how much fuel did he have on board? He wasn’t saying:

It was a good challenge today and it looks quite promising. We made a big step forward over the winter and, with the new development parts we have here, we are not looking too bad.

Join me for live discussion during free practice 3 (midnight Brititsh time) and qualifying (3am British time) here on

2 comments on “Friday practice: teams round-up”

  1. There should be no penalty for Piquet, because the damage occurred during Friday practice.  The gearbox must last four "race weekends", which is defined as "Saturday and Sunday".  Friday (or Thursday @ Monaco) is "free"

  2. I thought that was the case but I couldn’t find it in the rules – thanks for clearing it up.

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