Button and Schumacher top opening practice in Melbourne

Albert Park, Melbourne. © Creative Commons.

TV Notes

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.

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