Piquet tops practice times at Eastern Creek Less than 10 minutes after 24 A1 race cars roared out of the pit lane for the first official practice session, the Eastern Creek lap record had been smashed. On his fourth lap, A1 Team Brazil's Nelson...
Piquet tops practice times at Eastern Creek
Less than 10 minutes after 24 A1 race cars roared out of the pit lane for the first official practice session, the Eastern Creek lap record had been smashed. On his fourth lap, A1 Team Brazil's Nelson Piquet Jr put in the fastest lap of the session at 1.19.266, also the fastest lap of the day and more than three seconds quicker than Tim Leahey's 1.22.513 recorded in 2000 in a then, 3.5l Formula Holden. Throughout the session, another 13 A1 Teams also put themselves above the previous record time.
Commenting on his performance, Piquet said: 'It was a good lap. The car seemed very good and I did a good lap with no traffic. We did a qualifying simulation and just went for it and it was good. Eastern Creek is quite a good circuit, and it's not that easy. It's quite abrasive on the tyres so we have to make sure we get a good set-up for the races so we can make the tyres last throughout the races. Some of the corners are a bit dangerous as there is not a lot of space and not much run-off so it's quite tough which is the kind I like."
Mid-way through the first official practice session, conditions turned to wet with all A1 Teams putting in slower lap times towards the end of the session. The weather cleared for the second session but none of the A1 Teams failed to beat the fastest laps recorded at the beginning of session 1. With A1 Team France resuming their position at the top of the timing sheet, Nicolas Lapierre recorded the fastest lap of the second session with a time of 1.21.037.
Lapierre commented: 'We had a good strategy and we had a very good day, the team did a good job. It was difficult this morning with the conditions but we are getting better and I think we should have a good day tomorrow. I enjoy this track the first corner is great. The track is bumpy and it is easy to make mistakes here so I think the race will be very interesting.'
Pleased to see A1 Grand Prix head to an Aussie circuit, A1 Team Australia's Seat Holder, himself an F1 Champion said: 'It's fantastic to be here on home ground. As one of the first people to be involved in A1GP and see it evolve and develop the way it has is extraordinary and to see it come to Australia and have it here at Eastern Creek and see it all come to fruition is fantastic for me.'
Both A1 Team Australia drivers had their turn behind the wheel at their home circuit with Christian Jones going out in the first session and Will Power out in the second. 'This morning we had a new car and I couldn't really go too fast until we had bedded in the new gear box. It took four or five laps until I could really push. Then the red flag came out. It wasn't really a good session for me as I would have liked to have done more laps in the dry' said Christian Jones.
Optimistic about his team's performance, Will Power who took the car out for the later session said: 'Early on in the session I was trying to match the pace, was tuning the car. Early on we weren't that happy with it and I was still finding my feet a little bit, but we are making steps forward with it and by the time I was comfortable with everything the tyres were well passed their best so I had to struggle a bit. We're definitely not as far off as the times suggest and now with a new set of tyres and we'll be there or there abouts.'