Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher made the most of the limited Free Practice running at Melbourne yesterday.
The former world champions topped the morning and afternoon sessions respectively, although much of the day was dictated by inclement weather.
A heavy shower between the between the practices only served dampen the day even further.
McLaren brought no updates for this opening Grand Prix weekend; however appeared from afar to be relatively comfortable with the performance of the MP4-27 machine.
Button’s time of 1:27.560 left him several tenths ahead of the field, although the Briton was hampered by lack of clean running, while he and McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton sought optimum set-ups.
Hamilton – who finished 2nd in the morning – spent much time focussing on warming up the tyres, ensuring he could “switch them on” in the conditions.
Despite heading the afternoon, Schumacher was wary about getting overly excited about the coming season, with the veteran pointing toward the difficult conditions as the decisive element in practice.
However, Schumacher was also appeared positive about the F1 W03’s characteristics in changeable conditions on varying fuel loads.
Red Bull endured something of a difficult day, especially in the speed traps that showed them approximately 12 kph sigh of the Mercedes-powered cars.
Their opening gambit was still far better than Ferrari’s offering. The F2012 looked a handful through several corners, as lingering understeer clasped with snap oversteer.
This came close to removing Fernando Alonso from the action toward the end of FP1; however Felipe Massa’s off was all his own error. A wheel on the grass entering turn nine pulled the Brazilian toward the gravel trap, beaching the helpless Massa as he slid harmlessly off the track.
A change of steering rack on Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus E20 kept the 2007 world champion garage bound for a time, with Romain Grosjean similarly losing time with suspension set-up alterations. Thereafter the Enstone-based team consolidated their basic wet set-up characteristics and enjoyed productive running with high fuel.
Inconsistent weather conditions made for a frustrating Friday at the Force India camp. Despite Nico Hulkenberg claiming 2nd spot behind Schumacher in FP2, the team focussed on assessing the aero package of the VJM05 machine.
Friday proved to be a day of off-track excursions for Sauber. Both Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez endured wild rides at various points of FP2, with Kobayashi providing a most spectacular save after losing control of his C31 exiting the final corner.
By sending both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne out on track right at the beginning of FP1, Toro Rosso proved they were not too shy in the face of the changing weather; however the team did use the session to run every tyre compound, bar the softs. Spins for both drivers briefly stuttered their respective sessions.
It was a positive day for Williams, as both their drivers – Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna – ran various aero evaluation programmes and set-up work, hitting a majority of their objectives in the process.
Caterham ran both an old and new spec front wing during the Friday sessions, while also completing a raft of systems checks on the CT-01, although a mechanical issue cost Vitaly Petrov running time in FP1. A high-speed off across the damp grass at turn one in FP2 was enough to Heikki Kovalainen that the conditions were far from perfect.
Friday marked the first official running of Marussia MV01 this season, having missed the pre-season tests with this new machine. The team managed some brief runs in FP1, before gaining more consistent mileage in FP2, during which Timo Glock jumped to 12th place.
Also running for the first time officially were HRT, who endured a torrid day with the Cosworth-powered F1-12. Pedro de la Rosa managed a single lap in a day plagued by hydraulic problems, while Narain Karthikeyan ran a more respectable 19 laps, before his car too succumbing to a hydraulic issue. FP2 got off to a poor start for the team, when it was realised the nose of de la Rosa’s car did not properly fit the mountings on his car.
2012 Australian Grand Prix, (Round 1, Free Practice 1) Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.560s 11 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m27.805s + 0.245 14 3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.235s + 0.675 17 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m28.360s + 0.800 21 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m28.467s + 0.907 21 6. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.683s + 1.123 22 7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.908s + 1.348 23 8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m29.415s + 1.855 16 9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m29.565s + 2.005 8 10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m29.722s + 2.162 26 11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m29.790s + 2.230 21 12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m29.865s + 2.305 17 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.881s + 2.321 18 14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m29.953s + 2.393 21 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.124s + 2.564 22 16. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m30.515s + 2.955 16 17. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m30.586s + 3.026 16 18. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m30.743s + 3.183 11 19. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m31.178s + 3.618 17 20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m31.983s + 4.423 8 21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m34.730s + 7.170 8 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m40.256s + 12.696 11 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth no time 3 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth no time 0 2012 Australian Grand Prix, (Round 1, Free Practice 2) Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m29.183s 16 2. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m29.292s + 0.109 19 3. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.199s + 1.016 23 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m30.341s + 1.158 13 5. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.709s + 1.526 14 6. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m31.466s + 2.283 13 7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m31.505s + 2.322 14 8. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m31.932s + 2.749 16 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m32.184s + 3.001 17 10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.194s + 3.011 19 11. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m32.296s + 3.113 20 12. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.632s + 3.449 17 13. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m32.767s + 3.584 15 14. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m32.822s + 3.639 11 15. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.039s + 3.856 18 16. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.252s + 4.069 11 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m34.108s + 4.925 21 18. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.275s + 5.092 7 19. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m34.312s + 5.129 17 20. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.485s + 5.302 29 21. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.604s + 5.421 31 22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m34.770s + 5.587 13 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m42.627s + 13.444 16 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1 ^ Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.