Button and Schumacher lead the way on frustrating opening day
Posted by Simon Wright
AT 1.30am this morning UK time, Formula One roared back into life with the first practice session for the 2012 Australian Grand Prix. However, not much was given away thanks to the force of Mother Nature. Intermittent showers made the day difficult to judge, but both McLaren Mercedes and Mercedes GP will have plenty of reasons to be encouraged.
Jenson Button led Lewis Hamilton to a McLaren 1-2 in the first practice session. A late lap from Michael Schumacher was enough to end quickest in the second session. Button drew first blood in session one with a fastest time of 1.27.560, which pipped Schumacher to top spot. Moments later, Hamilton who has Lenny Kravitz and Nicole Scherzinger in Melbourne for support, went 0.2secs slower than his team-mate. However, McLaren set the standard and left an early mark on the field. An interesting Mercedes GP concept with their rear wing has raised some protest in the paddock, although the FIA scrutineers have declared it legal. Schumacher played down his pace today, but they certainly look far more competitive than they did at the start of 2011.
The chasing pack in the first session was led by Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, followed by Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg. Alonso was maximising everything out of his car, as he nearly smashed his machinery into the wall at the last corner right at the end of the session. There were problems for returning champion Kimi Raikkonen, who was restricted to just eight laps in the first session, thanks to a power steering problem. Raikkonen still wound up ninth fastest though.
Felipe Massa’s season began badly when the Brazilian decided to experiment with putting his rear wheels on the grass at turn nine. The result was a beached Ferrari and precious track time lost for the under pressure driver. The only other driver to notably visit a gravel trap was Sergio Perez, caught out by a damp track early on in FP2. A downpour before the second session meant there was little chance of running until the last 15 minutes for any useful data. It looked like Nico Hulkenberg would end up fastest in the afternoon session for Force India, until a last lap from Schumacher left him as top dog, although with a slower time than the morning session. It was a messy day by Sebastian Vettel’s high standards with the world champion failing to trouble the leading times but Red Bull seemed to be taking the cautious approach and will surely have something in reserve for the remainder of the weekend. This was later confirmed by team boss Christian Horner, who revealed to Sky Sports that the team had not yet ran on light fuel.
It was a nightmare day for Hispania on their first day of any running in 2012. Narain Karthikeyan grounded to a halt after only three laps in the morning with a mechanical problem. Pedro de la Rosa could only do one lap, due to a lack of spare parts. With their fastest time being a full 13 seconds off the pace, don’t be surprised to see the 107 per cent ruling claim the Spanish team as a casualty in Albert ParK for the second year running.
In summary, it was difficult to read a lot into today’s running due to the inclement weather. The forecast for the remainder of the weekend seems to be indicating at a dry qualifying session and sunny raceday. McLaren and Mercedes will be the happiest, whilst Ferrari looked a bit better than testing form suggested and Force India confirmed their place as the leaders in the midfield pack. Only after qualifying tomorrow will F1 2012 begin to have a tentative pecking order.
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1 TIMES
1. Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes) 1.27.560 – 11 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) 1.27.805 – 14 laps
3. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) 1.28.235 – 17 laps
4. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1.28.360 – 21 laps
5. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.28.467 – 21 laps
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) 1.28.683 – 22 laps
7. Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.28.908 – 23 laps
8. Pastor Maldonado (Williams Renault) 1.29.415 – 16 laps
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault) 1.29.565 – 8 laps
10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber Ferrari) 1.29.722 – 26 laps
11. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.29.790 – 21 laps
12. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India Mercedes) 1.29.865 – 17 laps
13. Paul di Resta (Force India Mercedes) 1.29.881 – 18 laps
14. Bruno Senna (Williams Renault) 1.29.953 – 21 laps
15. Sergio Perez (Sauber Ferrari) 1.30.124 – 22 laps
16. Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault) 1.30.515 – 16 laps
17. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham Renault) 1.30.586 – 16 laps
18. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1.30.743 – 11 laps
19. Jean-Eric Vergne (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.31.178 – 17 laps
20. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham Renault) 1.31.983 – 8 laps
21. Timo Glock (Marussia Cosworth) 1.34.730 – 8 laps
22. Charles Pic (Marussia Cosworth) 1.40.256 – 11 laps
BOTH NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN AND PEDRO DE LA ROSA (HISPANIA COSWORTH) SET NO TIME IN FP1
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2 TIMES
1. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) 1.29.183 – 16 laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India Mercedes) 1.29.292 – 19 laps
3. Sergio Perez (Sauber Ferrari) 1.30.199 – 22 laps
4. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1.30.341 – 13 laps
5. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber Ferrari) 1.30.709 – 14 laps
6. Paul di Resta (Force India Mercedes) 1.31.466 – 13 laps
7. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1.31.505 – 14 laps
8. Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham Renault) 1.31.932 – 16 laps
9. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) 1.32.184 – 17 laps
10. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.32.194 – 19 laps
11. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault) 1.32.296 – 20 laps
12. Timo Glock (Marussia Cosworth) 1.32.632 – 17 laps
13. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham Renault) 1.32.767 – 15 laps
14. Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault) 1.32.832 – 11 laps
15. Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes) 1.33.039 – 18 laps
16. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) 1.33.259 – 11 laps
17. Pastor Maldonado (Williams Renault) 1.34.108 – 21 laps
18. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault) 1.34.275 – 7 laps
19. Bruno Senna (Williams Renault) 1.34.312 – 17 laps
20. Jean-Eric Vergne (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.34.485 – 29 laps
21. Daniel Ricciardo (Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari) 1.34.604 – 31 laps
22. Charles Pic (Marussia Cosworth) 1.34.770 – 13 laps
23. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT Cosworth) 1.42.627 – 16 laps
NO TIME FROM PEDRO DE LA ROSA (HRT Cosworth)
About Simon WrightHello, I am Simon, 31 and currently work as a Picture Researcher & Sports Editor for Topps Europe Ltd. In my spare time, I run the Premier League at 25 Website. I graduated from the University of Northampton in 2012 with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Journalism.
Posted on March 16, 2012, in Practice Reports and tagged 2012, Australia, felipe massa, Fernando Alonso, FIA, jenson button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.