After a four-week break, the F1 circus rolls back into town. Unfortunately, if Valencia 2009 is going to be anything like 2008...F1 will be returning to one of the worst venues on the calendar for racing excitement!
However, I’m a half full kind of guy, so I’m going to wipe 2008 from my memory and look at 2009 with a clean slate.
As the green lights re-opened the F1 season, Vettel exited the pits followed by Buemi, Kubica and new boy/man Badoer (I know he is far from new, but for argument's sake lets class him as a rookie for now).
These first few drivers were followed out by most of the rest of the pack who completed their first instillation laps of the day.
Jenson was out seven minutes in for his first lap and a couple of minutes later Rubens completed his first try. I do wonder why Brawn always wait until the end to do their sighter laps. Perhaps they have Rafael Nadalesque superstitions?
Alguersuari gave us our first time after only 16 minutes. Having three new drivers on the grid has actually made practice more interesting as we get more action early on.
Rather than having to wait up to 20 minutes for any track action after the initial laps, we now get to watch rookies try and gain as much experience as humanly possible (long may it continue I say!).
I managed to catch the first time of the day (Alguersuari with a 1:50:229), but unfortunately the times were not on screen so I wasn’t sure what was going on in the early stages.
Impressively, rather than getting the race information we were looking at drivers relaxing in the pits. Wow Bernie, all that money and still not a perfect show...just how much goes back into F1 mate (I know that was unfair really, but I am so fed up with the way F1 is run, I just have to jump at every opportunity to have a dig!)?
I did know that early on the two Torro Rossos and Grosjean were the only cars on track. Luckily, 25 minutes in we finally got the lap counter on screen and Buemi was first with a 1:44:998.
Thirty minutes in, Brawn were calmly going about their business and neither driver was in their car. BGP were waiting for the track to be cleaned up and perfect for some hardcore crucial testing.
The current Championship leaders wanted to really evaluate their position. With little to no aerodynamic changes for this race; they were concentrating on the suspension. The team decided to revert to an earlier set up having admitted that they went a bit wrong with their development plans.
This is encouraging stuff for we Brawn fanatics as it shows a calm and intelligent attitude towards hopefully bringing the titles home.
With 48 minutes left, Jens was in his car and looking ready to give the streets a run. At this time Alonso was first with a 1:43:345. In actual fact though, it was Rubens who set BGP’s first time. Winding himself into the groove, the Brazilian clocked in a 1:47:808, which stuck him P13 of 13.
On his second run, he managed to get himself up to the much more respectable P5 (1:43:704). The BGP No. 2 was having a small issue with his brake temperatures but for his first attempts, things were looking good.
Jenson’s first time was 2.442 seconds off the pace of front man Webber’s 1:43:771, but Jens would improve on his P16 pretty quickly. Interestingly, whilst Webber was top of the board, his team mate was still yet to set a time. No one was talking about it but perhaps Red Bull were having some troubles?
A couple of minutes later, Jenson was going fastest in sector one and blitzed across the line into P1 with a 1:43:074. Ermm in actual fact just a couple of seconds later Vettel was out and lapping well too.
Vettel was probably just waiting for a squeaky clean track and after only a couple of runs was up to P2. On the bright side, I’m arguably working my way closer to that dream job in the media with that pointless speculation earlier! I’m learning!
At this stage Brawn seemed to be struggling. Neither driver was happy, the team looked down beat and changes were made to the cars before they went out again.
Having said that, after re-entering the game, Rubens raised himself from P11 to P5 with a 1:43:396 with just over 20 minutes left. A few minutes later the McLarens nicked Jenson’s P1 spot which put Jens in P3 and Rubens P8.
Despite all the head shaking and worried faces, to be P3 and P8 was certainly no disaster! Nevertheless both Brawn lads went straight back to the pits and both had their front wings changed to run back to back evaluations.
Once back out on track, Rubens almost instantly shot up to P1 with a 1:42:460, so despite all the doom and gloom...things weren’t going that badly!
With 10 minutes left Rubens was first and Jenson was fourth (both higher than the Red Bulls). With a couple of minutes to go Rubens suffered gear troubles but he remained top anyway.
At the end of practice one you could quite easily conclude from the BGP team’s faces that the morning had been pretty bad! However, the team managed to carry out some pretty vital tests and finished on top. I guess we will just have to see what happens in P2 to understand whether the gloom is justified!?
Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:42.460
2 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.636 0.176
3 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.654 0.194
4 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:43.074 0.614
5 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:43.088 0.628
6 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:43.209 0.749
7 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:43.225 0.765
8 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:43.243 0.783
9 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:43.345 0.885
10 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:43.384 0.924
11 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:43.389 0.929
12 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:43.419 0.959
13 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:43.637 1.177
14 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:43.746 1.286
15 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:44.040 1.580
16 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:44.126 1.666
17 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 1:44.356 1.896
18 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:44.638 2.178
19 10 Timo Glock Toyota 1:44.732 2.272
20 3 Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:45.840 3.380