Friday, 21 March 2008

Malaysian Grand Prix Practice 1

An eventful first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix has drawn to a close with the Ferraris setting the pace so far with a decent sized gap back to the McLaren of Kovalainen and Nico Rosberg's Williams. It doesn't tell the full story for Ferrari however as Kimi Raikkonen's car ground to a halt out on track with what looked like something electronic or hydraulic. It certainly wasn't an engine failure by the looks of things, but still not great news.

McLaren didn't have the best of sessions either. They were a little short on pace compared to the Ferraris, and with 5 minutes of the session to go Hamilton had a minor trip off the circuit at turns 7 and 8 and he cruised back to the pits and called a halt to proceedings. Whether that was just a precaution or whether something was actually wrong with the car it's hard to say at the moment.

Hamilton wasn't the only one off track however. David Coulthard went off in rather spectacular fashion by snapping his front suspension wishbones bouncing over a kerb. Teammate Mark Webber fared even worse. His Renault engine blew up under full throttle down the straight and he had to pull off and then jump out as his car was still pouring out smoke and flames. He will surely get a grid penalty for the race. Heidfeld went bouncing across the gravel at turn 8, Nakajima spun in turn 9, and Vettel had a front brake failure whilst slowing for the final corner. It was a very similar incident to the one that befell Mark Webber's car in Melbourne last weekend. I wonder if they have the same braking system as their Red Bull stablemates?

Aside from the numerous offs there was plenty to see as lots of drivers seemed to struggle in the tight final corner. It seemed like every 30 seconds or so the director would cut to somebody getting horribly crossed up mid-corner. I think the problem is that they are shedding a LOT of speed and also trail-braking right the way through towards the apex, then no sooner have they got off the brakes they have to try and get the power down out of a tight, slow hairpin. It seemed to be that transition from braking to getting the power down that was causing balance problems for a lot of drivers. Nico Rosberg struggled with it more than most throughout the session, but finally got his act together late on and put in an excellent lap to take fourth spot from his good mate Hamilton.

No sign of the thunderstorms yet...

No comments: