Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday analysis - Ferrari lead Valencia learning curve

The first day of running on Valencia’s new track was a matter of letting conditions improve as more rubber went down, tuning the set-ups, and avoiding the offline dust as everyone developed baselines to compare against their simulations. At the end of it all, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen led the way, but only by a whisker from Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Honda’s Jenson Button. We take a team-by-team look at progress…

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.317s, P7/1m 39.477s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 40.654s, P2/1m 39.678s, P4
Both drivers loved the track, and said they were completely happy with what they achieved in terms of set-up and balance as a baseline for Saturday.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 41.385s, P9/1m 39.497s, P2
Nelson Piquet, 1m 42.107s, P15/1m 40.439s, P9
On the face of it, not a bad day for Renault, with Alonso second and Piquet ninth in the second session. They had no significant problems, but the duff note for Alonso was being reprimanded and fined €10,000 for crossing the white line on the entrance to the pits during the afternoon session.

Jenson Button, 1m 42.460s, P17/1m 39.546s, P3
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 41.830s, P11/1m 41.377s, P20
Button had his best start to a Grand Prix weekend this year with third fastest time in the afternoon, when he reported that major set-up changes had made his Honda really good to drive. Barrichello had a better morning, but went backwards on set-up and found his car much worse later on.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 40.822s, P3/1m 39.712s, P5
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 41.163s, P5/1m 39.954s, P6
Hamilton was very happy with the baseline McLaren established very quickly in the morning, but said that heavy traffic on his afternoon runs prevented him from confirming it fully. Kovalainen reported similar sentiments after starting with a great front end on his MP4-23 and gradually dialling in the rear. Both drivers, like their Ferrari rivals, are feeling very confident.

Timo Glock, 1m 42.036s, P14/1m 39.967s, P7
Jarno Trulli, 1m 41.930s, P12/1m 40.877s, P15
Toyota got off to a great start, courtesy of Glock in the morning, and the young German set the seventh fastest time in the afternoon. He relied on his Champ Car experience of fast street courses and said he had a productive day. In contrast, Trulli struggled to get his TF108 well balanced and was much less happy with the consistency of his car.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 41.281s, P6/1m 40.149s, P8
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 42.453s, P16/1m 41.084s, P18
As usual, BMW Sauber focused on tyre evaluation and set-up work rather than lap times. Kubica was relatively happy, but Heidfeld had little explanation for his slow lap times.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 43.075s, P18/1m 40.500s, P10
Adrian Sutil, 1m 41.951s, P13/1m 40.999s, P17
Both Force Indias were running their seamless-shift transmissions again, and they will be retained for the whole weekend this time. Fisichella had a small brake problem which was quickly sorted, otherwise both drivers completed their programmes without interruption.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 43.524s, P20/1m 40.585s, P11
David Coulthard, 1m 43.312s, P19/1m 40.696s, P13
Webber had what he described as a ‘testing’ morning, but got going better in the afternoon. He was lucky to avoid being clobbered at one stage by a spinning Nico Rosberg in Turn 25, and wound up 11th. Coulthard likewise improved in that session.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 41.706s, P10/1m 40.607s, P12
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 41.329s, P8/1m 40.742s, P14
Rosberg nearly picked up Webber after losing control braking into Turn 25 in the afternoon, but had an otherwise undramatic day. Both he and Nakajima completed their planned programmes with any significant problems.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 40.496s, P1/40.982s, P16
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 41.099s, P4/1m 41.246s, P19
Vettel was very happy with his fastest time in the morning, but predictably lost ground in the afternoon. Bourdais had traction problems and struggled with rear-end stability under braking.

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