Australian Grand Prix – Practice

With the Bahrain Grand Prix being cancelled (postponed?), the 2011 season opens in Australia, just like the old days 🙂

Saturday practice 1
Australian Mark Webber sets the target in the first practice session with a 1:26.831 lap. His Red Bull teammate (and World Champion) Sebastian Vettel was second fastest, followed by Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Jenson Button (McLaren) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren).
Chandrock had a strange off, putting the Lotus into the wall just a couple of minutes into the session.
Neither HRT took part in the session, but that’s no surprise as they didn’t run the car in any of the pre-season tests either; will they be ready for Qualifying, and will they be within 107% of the pole time?

Saturday practice 2
It’s looking wet and windy
Both HRT cars are still in pieces; doubt they’ll make it out for this session
25mins into P2 and there’s spots of rain on the on-board cameras
30mins: LH is close to MW’s top time from the previous session
JB is first to beat MW’s P1 time … and then MS tops JB’s time
JB back to the top of the timing sheet … only to lose it to his teammate … and then take it back
60mins: Top 6 are JB (1:25.854), LH, FA, MW, MS, SV
10mins left of P2 and it’s starting to rain
2:30 left on the clock and VL finally rolls out of the HRT garage
VL returns to the pit lane after that installation lap (out and in, no timed lap)
So the top of the timing sheet are: JB (1:25.854), LH, FA, SV, MW, MS, FM, SP, RB, NR.

Sunday practice
VL doesn’t even manage a full lap before the newly built HRT dies on him – “I touched the brake and the gearbox went into false neutral, I lost everything.”
The HRT team are still building NK’s car – they’ve only got about 50 minutes if he’s going to get any practice ahead of the qualifying session
BBC report that Red Bull asked FIA race director Charlie Whiting to ban the use of the moveable rear wing in qualifying
30mins: SV (1:27.337), NR, JB, VP, MW, NH, KK.
BBC have spotted the Virgin team have changed TG’s engine – this year’s cap is 8 engines per car for the whole season
RB is out of the Williams as the mechanics go to work
45mins: SV posts 1:25.327 on prime (hard) tyres
50mins: NK on track in the other HRT car!
Ferrari crew working on FM’s car – apparently the camera’s come off
BBC report there’s an agreement that the drivers who fall foul of the 107% qualifying rule could get an exemption to start the race from the pit lane
SV tops the timing chart (1:24.507) followed by MW, LH, JB, VP, FA, KK & NR

Qualifying is at 2am EDT but I’m about to fall asleep on my keyboard, so I’ll record it and watch it in the morning. I’m still planning to watch the race live though.

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