Saturday Practice, 6th June 2009
Practice Three: 11:00am - 12:00am, local time (09:00am - 10:00am, British time)
Yesterday was a strange practice session as the teams all struggled to get to grips with an under used circuit. Unsurprisingly, Rosberg topped the sheets in Practice One (though as ever, many believe this was due to light running).
Kovalainen was the man to beat in second practice, but for we Brawn fans, Friday was a quiet one, as the team favoured three hours of intense testing over glory runs; (though lets face it, at the moment, Brawn haven’t got as many sponsors to wow). On a slightly separate note, both Rubens and Jenson have new engines for this, a particularly engine punishing track.
As the green light initiated the final practice session, Glock was the first of the drivers to exit for his install lap. Other drivers followed, and two minutes in, Jenson was out on track too. Around four minutes in, all of the cars, bar Rubens and Raikkonen, had completed their installation laps.
It didn’t take long for the two remaining cars to get out there though and I think they were kindly giving us something to watch whilst the rest of the grid analysed their laps. We didn’t have to wait long anyway though, as twelve minutes in, Massa was out and about to set the first time of the day (1:30:238).
Fifteen minutes in and there were only four times on the board, (both Toyotas, a Force India, and Massa on Pole). Four minutes later, both Rubens and Jenson were out on track and about to give us some times to look at. Both initially struggled to find clear track and air and so Jens’s first time of 1:30:265 (P10 out of 11) was not reflective of his pace. Neither was Rubens’s first attempt at 1:30:212 (P10 out of 13).
However, on his second attempt, Jenson raised himself to a much better P2 (1:29:067). Rubens too went higher, but only to sixth (1:29:228). Worry not Rubens fans, on his third try the Brazilian became the first Brawn man to stick the BGP001 on Pole (1:28:514). Of course he was soon after knocked off by…Rosberg!
At about the half way stage, Jenson had fallen to P9 but was going well (he was the fastest in sector two, and Rubens was best in sector three). The Championship leader sped around the anti-clockwise track and raised himself to third (1:28:527). So, with 28 minutes left, Rosberg led Rubens and then Jens was third, (which is far better than yesterday!).
With twenty minutes to go, Rubens had slipped to third and Jenson fifth, but the soft tyres were now the faster of the two compounds. Both Brawns went back out, but neither went any faster, Rubens was now in fourth and Jenson was complaining of understeer in the middle sector, on top of a general oversteer problem.
Rubens, had better luck on his second run and got back up to second (1:28:332), behind Massa. With six minutes to go both Brawns fitted the soft tyres and left the pits. Rubens was held up by traffic, but Jenson managed to get up to third (1:28:360). However, as the track improved by the second a few drivers managed to knock the Brawns back down to sixth (Rubens) and Seventh (Jenson).
In conclusion, today was far more encouraging for Brawn. I think, as ever with practice, Jenson seemed to struggle more than Rubens. However, I think the long stints of testing yesterday will pay off over the next two days.
Looking at the times over the practice sessions, I believe the fight for pole will be between the Ferraris and the Brawns (though Toyota may just pop up in there). All I can do now is wait a couple of hours…and cross my fingers!
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.983
2 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:28.022
3 Timo Glock Toyota 1:28.094
4 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:28.122
5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.320
6 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:28.332
7 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:28.360
8 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:28.364
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.415
10 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:28.451
11 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 1:28.503
12 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.563
13 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:28.678
14 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:28.715
15 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.738
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:29.050
17 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 1:29.076
18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:29.167
19 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:29.261
20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:29.421