Free practice session one
1. ROSBERG Williams 1m26.687s
2. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m26.736s
3. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m26.750s
4. BARRICHELLO Brawn 1m27.226s
5. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m27.453s
6. BUTTON Brawn 1m27.467s
7. MASSA Ferrari 1m27.642s
8. GLOCK Toyota 1m27.710s
9. SUTIL Force India 1m27.993s
10. ALONSO Renault 1m28.123s
11. HEIDFELD BMW 1m28.137s
12. TRULLI Toyota 1m28.142s
13. KUBICA BMW 1m28.511s
14. FISICHELLA Force India 1m28.603s
15. BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m28.785s
16. HAMILTON McLaren 1m29.042s
17. WEBBER Red Bull 1m29.081s
18. PIQUET Renault 1m29.461s
19. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m29.499s
20. VETTEL Red Bull 1m32.784s
Free practice session two
1. ROSBERG Williams 1m26.053s
2. BARRICHELLO Brawn 1m26.157s
3. TRULLI Toyota 1m26.350s
4. WEBBER Red Bull 1m26.370s
5. BUTTON Brawn 1m26.374s
6. GLOCK Toyota 1m26.443s
7. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m26.560s
8. VETTEL Red Bull 1m26.740s
9. SUTIL Force India 1m27.040s
10. MASSA Ferrari 1m27.064s
11. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m27.204s
12. ALONSO Renault 1m27.232s
13. FISICHELLA Force India 1m27.282s
14. HEIDFELD BMW 1m27.317s
15. KUBICA BMW 1m27.398s
16. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m27.479s
17. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m27.802s
18. HAMILTON McLaren 1m27.813s
19. PIQUET Renault 1m27.828s
20. BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m28.076s
It’s been a very interesting day in Melbourne. It was great to see all the cars in anger on the track for the first time. First impressions are that the new cars look great. You get used to them very quickly. I even started to get used to the sight of the Renault after a while.
Who’s hot and who’s not?
In terms of who impressed today, there is no doubt that the 3 teams with question marks over their diffuser (Williams, Brawn GP and Toyota) all look in extremely good shape. All 3 of these teams have performed consistently well throughout the day. Williams are probably the most pleasant surprise of Friday practise, as Nico Rosberg topped both sessions.
Throughout testing it looked as if they were going to be stuck in the midfield. However on their final day in Jerez they set a very fast time, the fastest time set in Jerez all winter. It looks as if they may have brought that form with them to Melbourne. Let’s hope they can keep this pace up throughout the weekend.
TOYOTA – Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock
Jarno Trulli completely walloped Glock in the first half of 2008, but in the second half of the season, Glock improved and came back strong. In the end, it was Trulli who won the team mate war, but it didn’t end up as comfortable as it might have been.
Glock looks to be a very handy driver. After a tough start, he has adapted himself very well to F1. He will improve furthur and have a very good second season.
However, he will find it very hard to beat Trulli. Trulli is in the form of his life at the moment. He is also arguably F1’s best qualifier. If he can get a few cars between himself and Glock, then Trulli has a great chance of leading Toyota’s charge for podiums and wins.
Trulli can find an extra few tenths from nowhere when it matters most. This sets him apart from Glock, certainly when it comes to qualifying.
In 2009, Jarno will be able to get rid of his worst enemy—the grooved tyre. He will be one of the drivers who benefits most from the changeover to slicks. When Trulli first started in F1, he was super-quick on slicks. I think Trulli stands a chance of having his best ever season in F1 in 2009.
Glock will have a good season too but don’t expect to see Trulli’s No. 1 status in the team changing. Glock will push him all the way, but Trulli has enough to stay ahead and may edge further ahead of Glock.
If Toyota is going to win races this season, Trulli is more likely to be the man to deliver them.
FINAL VERDICT: Glock is a very competent driver who will keep Trulli on his toes. However, I don’t see No. 1 status shifting to Timo’s side of the garage this season. Trulli looks set to build on 2008 and will become harder to beat.
Scuderia Toro Rosso – Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais
For Toro Rosso, it’s the battle of the Sebs again!
Bourdais may not have had many points last season, but in the final third of the season, he was very strong. Luck wasn’t with him at times.
He could have challenged for the win in Monza—it rained at the wrong time in Spa. Then there was that dreadful decision by the stewards in Fuji. Once he adapted to the car he was fast.
The decision to give Buemi the drive is a strange one. He didn’t finish that high up in the GP2 standings, and his best results came in the sprint races benefiting from the reverse grid system.
I think with so little experience, and having the new F1 cars to adapt to, it will be a very tall order for the young Swiss. As the season goes on, I am sure that he will get more adapted to F1, but it’s going to take some time. I don’t expect him to get results straight away.
Bourdais, on the other hand, could have a very strong season. These new cars could really suit him down to the ground. Over in Champ Car, he was used to cars with slick tyres and more emphasis on mechanical grip.
In Champ Car, there also was the “push to pass” button. This may give him a little head start, when it comes to making the most use out of the KERs system, when it comes to overtaking.
Bourdais could be one of the surprises of this F1 season. He could get the odd podium. I think that he will come out on top at Rosso this season.
FINAL VERDICT: Rosso has brought Buemi into F1 too soon and he may struggle. Bourdais has a chance of having a great second season. He will improve massively on what was overall a disappointing debut season. He will feel more at home with the new spec F1 cars.