Australian GP practice two analysis

McLaren are happy with the MP4-25's pace around Melbourne

McLaren are happy with the MP4-25's pace around Melbourne

McLaren ended the first day of practice in Australia in a positive mood, talking up their chances after a strong showing in both sessions.

But Ferrari and Red Bull still look like the teams to beat ahead of qualifying tomorrow.

We’ve had five practice sessions so far in 2010 and a different team has been fastest in each of them. That shows two things: the field is quite closely matched at the front, and judging form based on practice times isn’t easy.

The second practice session was disrupted by two bursts of rainfall: one at the beginning of the session, the other around half an hour in. You can see the effect it had on the drivers most clearly in the chart of the front runners’ lap times below.

McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes

FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari

FP2 times: McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari

Ferrari ran a new front wing on Fernando Alonso’s car while Felipe Massa used the regular front wing so they could compare the two. The team said the new front wing gave positive results and Massa said he was happy with tyre degradation.

McLaren had some aerodynamic changes on their car including new wing mirrors mounted on the side pod wings. The general feeling at the team is that they’re closer to the pace than they were at Bahrain, particularly on one-lap qualifying pace.

Lewis Hamilton, who was quickest in the second session, was one of several drivers to complain about slower cars getting in the way:

Every time I?ve tried to put a good lap in on a new set of tyres, I?ve hit traffic.
Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton’s quickest lap (the lowest of the orange squares on the left-hand side of the chart) was on soft tyres. When Jenson Button came out to do his time on soft tyres the track was wet, making it hard to compare their efforts.

It was interesting to see Red Bull and Ferrari doing stints alongside each other towards the end of the first period of dry running in FP2. Red Bull were ahead on pace which was probably mostly down to fuel load. But when one considers that the Ferrari is believed to start the race heavier than the Red Bull because of its thirstier engine, that in itself could be significant.

At Mercedes, Michael Schumacher was one of few drivers to improve his time at the end of the session, having failed to set a lap during the first opportunity when the track was dry. He ended up ahead of Nico Rosberg for the first time in a session this year.

Renault, Force India, Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso

FP2 times: Renault, Force India, Williams, Sauber, Toro Rosso (click to enlarge)

FP2 times: Renault, Force India, Williams, Sauber, Toro Rosso

Williams published a detailed breakdown of their cars’ activities in FP2 as follows:

Rubens Barrichello: Run 1: New Prime (12 laps, tyre evaluations), Run 2: New Option (13 laps, tyre evaluations)
Nico H???lkenberg: Run 1: New Option (11 laps, tyre evaluations), Run 2: New Intermediate (3 laps, wet tyre test), Run 3: New Prime (11 laps, tyre evaluations)

The pair were out at roughly the same time for their new tyre evaluations. Barrichello ended his run on the hard (Prime) tyre with two laps in the 1’26.9s, while H???lkenberg’s last two laps on the soft tyres were 1’27.8 and 1’27.5.

This suggests the hard tyre is quick and, assuming we can take its durability for granted, it will surely be a preferable choice for Sunday.

H???lkenberg was driving at Albert Park for the first time and gave the track the thumbs-up:

Albert Park is quite a cool track; I really enjoyed it out there. It?s very bumpy, but definitely good fun.
Nico H???lkenberg

But at Force India Vitantonio Liuzzi was another driver frustrated by traffic:

Unfortunately there was always traffic as there was people slowing down and backing off to try and get some space, so I didn’t get a free lap. It was like people were on a Sunday drive in some places.
Vitantonio Liuzzi

However Force India appeared to be closer to the pace of the Renaults in the second session. Not that the French team were off their pace from this morning – in fact Vitaly Petrov’s best time in the second session was quicker than Robert Kubica’s fastest lap from first practice.

Jaime Alguersuari was critical of the new section of track at Bahrain two weeks ago but was much more positive about Albert Park, calling it an “amazing track”.

He enjoyed it so much he did 43 laps – 14 more than anyone else – mostly in one long stint beginning in the middle of the session while the track was still damp. This was clearly a high-fuel run, as he ended up the best part of four seconds off team mate Sebastien Buemi’s pace.

Virgin, Lotus and HRT

FP2 times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT (click to enlarge)

FP2 times: Lotus, Virgin, HRT

The award for most optimistic post-practice press release goes to HRT:

Bruno?s car has now covered its first race distance if the team takes into account all of the running from the Bahrain weekend.

However Bruno Senna covered no ground in the second practice session following fuel pressure problems and team mate Karun Chandhok stopped just 100 metres out of the pits with a gearbox problem. The uphill struggle continues.

Virgin did little running too, with just two installation laps for Lucas di Grassi.

Top 50 lap times

Rank Driver Lap time Lap
1 Lewis Hamilton 85.801 6
2 Jenson Button 86.076 5
3 Mark Webber 86.248 21
4 Mark Webber 86.343 19
5 Jenson Button 86.349 12
6 Michael Schumacher 86.511 16
7 Michael Schumacher 86.522 11
8 Michael Schumacher 86.548 13
9 Lewis Hamilton 86.648 4
10 Jenson Button 86.684 8
11 Vitaly Petrov 86.732 6
12 Jenson Button 86.735 4
13 Lewis Hamilton 86.819 12
14 Sebastien Buemi 86.832 7
15 Adrian Sutil 86.834 22
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi 86.835 8
17 Jenson Button 86.874 15
18 Rubens Barrichello 86.904 11
19 Adrian Sutil 86.94 7
20 Rubens Barrichello 86.951 12
21 Nico Rosberg 86.956 4
22 Nico Rosberg 86.957 20
23 Nico Rosberg 86.994 21
24 Sebastien Buemi 87.005 5
25 Vitaly Petrov 87.078 5
26 Pedro de la Rosa 87.108 11
27 Robert Kubica 87.108 6
28 Sebastien Buemi 87.152 8
29 Lewis Hamilton 87.217 10
30 Jenson Button 87.217 11
31 Michael Schumacher 87.298 10
32 Rubens Barrichello 87.431 8
33 Kamui Kobyashi 87.455 8
34 Nico Rosberg 87.464 3
35 Sebastien Buemi 87.498 4
36 Vitantonio Liuzzi 87.512 12
37 Nico H???lkenberg 87.545 11
38 Rubens Barrichello 87.585 5
39 Vitantonio Liuzzi 87.587 17
40 Adrian Sutil 87.627 8
41 Vitantonio Liuzzi 87.634 6
42 Nico Rosberg 87.709 18
43 Kamui Kobyashi 87.745 9
44 Robert Kubica 87.746 4
45 Rubens Barrichello 87.776 7
46 Pedro de la Rosa 87.784 23
47 Kamui Kobyashi 87.811 7
48 Nico H???lkenberg 87.88 25
49 Nico H???lkenberg 87.899 10
50 Lewis Hamilton 87.937 3

2010 Australian Grand Prix

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30 comments on Australian GP practice two analysis

  1. Bored of hearing drivers moan about traffic already, having traffic on quali runs or in practice and in the race is part and parcel of motor racing, especially now ther are more cars in the field. The drivers moaning need to just accept it’ll happen, be frustrated, but just get on with it.

    • Sorry, ignore the first comment, made a typo :P

      • Damon said on 26th March 2010, 13:06

        Getting ill is part and parcel of life, but I’m sure you will moan when you get cancer, won’t you?

        So stop moaning about drivers giving their opinion about stuff.

        • Patrickl said on 26th March 2010, 14:31

          Indeed. They are not even moaning, they simply respond to questions how their qualifying went.

          • John H said on 26th March 2010, 17:26

            Indeed. If you read what hamilton says, it’s just a statement of the truth.

            Liuzzi’s tone seems a little more moan like, but so what. We need opinions!

  2. PeterG said on 26th March 2010, 12:36

    Keith,
    I assume where the axis read Session time (s) you probably mean Session time (M)? Minutes into the session?

  3. I pity the new teams. How are they going to bag any sponsor in the current situation? They will fall by the wayside during the season and destroy their own future. The next season really needs some reputed teams like Lola and Epsilon Euskadi.

    • Patrickl said on 26th March 2010, 14:32

      Because if that XTrac gearbox and hydraulics were in an Epsilon Euskadi car or Lola car then it would have worked?

      How does that make sense?

  4. This suggests the hard tyre is quick and, assuming we can take its durability for granted, it will surely be a preferable choice for Sunday.

    Quick enough for some of the top ten to qualify with? Or is it still too early to say.

  5. Hey, I can’t find the place to bet my predictions for this GP… Anyone has it?

  6. symmetry said on 26th March 2010, 12:54

    Did Vettell not go out in this practice session?

  7. Icthyes said on 26th March 2010, 13:20

    If I were McLaren, apparently confident about their race pace and more confident about their qualifying pace than Bahrain’s, I would think about doing Q3 on the hards. Then they can switch to the softs nearer the end of the race, when the track is more rubbered in. Albert Park is quite severe on graining the softer compounds, so this could be a good option.

    Of course, if there is an early safety car (likely at Albert Park), then it would ruin the whole thing, so maybe not!

    • Eastman said on 26th March 2010, 13:37

      Yeah I’d agree with the second bit. A safety car is almost inevitable, I’d say starting on hards would be a bad choice.

      If the safety car arrives in the first dozen or so laps you could switch onto the hards and gamble about reaching the end on them. Not so sure about trying the same on the soft.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th March 2010, 14:26

      I think qualifying on soft tyres is a foregone conclusion there’s no way they want to give away track position, we know how difficult overtaking is.

      • Patrickl said on 26th March 2010, 14:42

        No, we don’t really know how difficult overtaking is. We only really have Schumacher and Webber’s word for it. Further down the field there was plenty of overtaking and Alonso didn’t feel it would be impossible to try an attack on Vettel.

        Besides, last race they were about 4 or 5 seconds a lap slower at the end of the race than in qualifying.

        Some fresh soft rubber on a rubbered in track and the overtaking skills of Hamilton and Button could see them get past some cars.

        Though I agree with Icthyes, that the chance of a safety car is just too great.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th March 2010, 14:56

          Hamilton was over a second a lap quicker than Rosberg in the first stint at Bahrain, and was much quicker than his in a straight line, yet Rosberg never even had to move to defend his line once. And Hamilton is hardly the sort of person to sit there and not try an overtaking move.

    • David BR said on 26th March 2010, 16:06

      Hamilton celebrates by getting his car impounded a few hours after 2nd practice doing ‘burnouts’ and ‘fishtails’!

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/mar/26/lewis-hamilton-melbourne-police

      At least he’s doing his best to liven up the F1’s image! Think it augurs well…

  8. I think Red Bull have it in the bag, Mark Webber did his best lap time on a drying track not before it, and also did his lap on worn hard tyres with fuel…
    Mclaren went quick but had softs and low fuel….’Button hints at light McLaren fuel load’

    • Rob said on 27th March 2010, 2:17

      I noticed the same thing, a Red Bull will take pole and I hope it’s Webber for his home GP.

  9. KMcD said on 26th March 2010, 15:11

    I love the guff from HRT. Hope there is more like that to come over the year.

  10. Mac_v2 said on 26th March 2010, 17:11

    Virgin Racing and HRT look like a Groucho Marx version of “Grand Prix”… they even make Osella look like Mclaren in perspective.

    … That aside the weekend “feels” good, as the drivers, teams and Fans are relatively sure we’ll have a better race than the one in Bahrain.

    Lets pray for that!

  11. vettelfan said on 26th March 2010, 23:19

    Nice analysis, as always. Just there is no mention of Sauber..?

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