Faster Brawn in Final Turkish Practice

Patrick AllenAnalyst IJune 6, 2009

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 05:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and Brawn GP drives during practice for the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on June 5, 2009, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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

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