Home > F1 2012 season > Schumacher tops second practice but McLaren dominates 2012 Austrialian Friday practice day

Schumacher tops second practice but McLaren dominates 2012 Austrialian Friday practice day

Here we go again, more lap times but the pecking order is not clear. Teams claim that the first practice sessions is mainly use to test car configuration and reliability while the second (which we expected to see more action) was wet. Still there is some additional data we can peak at.

Before we analyze the Australian Friday lap times, let’s get some perspective on last year (2011) Australian grand prix practice sessions:

2011 Top 5 in practice session 1: Webber (1:26.831), Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Barrichello.

2011 Top 5 in practice session 2: Button (1:25.854), Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Webber.

2011 Top 5 in practice session 3: Vettel (1:24.507), Webber, Hamilton, Button, Petrov.

2011 Qualifying practice: Vettel (1:23.529), Hamilton, Webber, Button, Alonso.

What we remember from the 2011 Austrialian GP: RedBull was FAST. Their package was fast out-of-the-box, then on practice 2, we had a McLaren resurgence, but saturday practice 3 and qualifying was all RedBull, Vettel was just insane FAST!

If we look at the above data: Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Button exchanged top 5 positions throught the practice sessions with some flashes from Rosberg, Petrov and Barrichello. How have this changed for the Australian 2012 GP?

Okay, these are the times of the Top 6 for the first practice (dry):

  1. 1:27.560 Jenson Button (McLaren)
  2. 1:27.805 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
  3. 1:28.235 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
  4. 1:28.360 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  5. 1:28.467 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
  6. 1:28.683 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

These are the times of the Top 6 second practice (uhm, it was wet):

  1. 1:29.183 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
  2. 1:29.292 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
  3. 1:30.199 Sergio Perez (Sauber)
  4. 1:30.341 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  5. 1:30.709 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
  6. 1:31.466 Paul di Resta (Force India)

Okay, first question: Where is Vettel? Well, he is a double world champion, probably taking things at ease, confident so maybe he is keeping low profile for now, or RedBull is not as FAST as they were last year. Webber only managed 5th best time.

The second practice was wet, so as Schumacher explained it was not a good indication. Still teams were able to test Pirelli wet tires. RedBull or McLaren took some time off the top 5 best times during the wet practice.

Now, definetely Mercedes is in much better shape (so far) this season than last year. RedBull is now a big question mark… if we compare them to last year, in 2011 they were so dominant that they were always in the top 5 no matter if it was dry or wet. Have they changed their strategy? are they limiting glory laps? leaving their Energy Drinks for the qualifying session?

Of course, teams will improve from here. Looking at 2011 lap times, the improvement between the first practice to qualifying was about 3.302 seconds. That is huge! and we still have a long way to go…. qualifying practice tomorrow is going to be exciting!!! So far our predictions are probably a fair bet, but we will see if they hold true by sunday afternoon. Enjoy the weekend!

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