For the first time in twelve seasons, Bridgestone Potenza slick racing tyres graced a Formula One car at a grand prix as the 2009 season got underway in Melbourne, Australia for the ING Australian Grand Prix. AT&T Williams driver Nico Rosberg was the fastest man in both of the two Friday practice sessions at Albert Park, for round one of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Rosberg set a 1min 26.687secs using the medium compound in the first session with team-mate Kazuki Nakajima the second fastest, also using the medium, and Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) the third quickest, using the super soft.
In the later session Rosberg set a 1min 26.053secs, with Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP) second quickest and Jarno Trulli (Panasonic Toyota Racing) third quickest, all top three drivers using the super soft. Outlining the close competition in prospect for the season ahead, just over two seconds covered the entire field in this second practice session.
Both sessions were held later in the day than previously at this event, due to the race start time change to 17:00 hrs on Sunday. The first session started at 12:30 hrs, and the second started at 16:30 hrs. The notoriously fickle Melbourne weather provided pleasant temperatures, but some way off the heat of last year. Track conditions were as expected early in the race meeting, with the lower levels of grip provided by the surface due to it only being used once a year for motor racing activity.
Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development, said:
"Today was very exciting as, for the first time, we saw all the 2009 specification cars on track at a grand prix weekend, and it was also a very nostalgic day as we saw slick tyres in Melbourne. The first day of the season is always difficult for drivers, and the Albert Park circuit was quite dirty and slippery, as we expected. The super soft tyre will provide the big challenge for the weekend, and it performed largely as wanted, with an absolute lap time around a second faster than the medium, and quite rapid progression towards increasing lap times as it deteriorates. The dirty track did mean more graining than we predicted, but this will improve with a cleaner track and more rubber laid. The medium compound was very robust and will certainly be the main race tyre. As far as track conditions are concerned we expect more grip tomorrow and on Sunday."
Stats of the Day
Total amount of laps completed by all drivers: 1041 laps
Average number of laps per driver: 52 laps
Most laps by a driver: 83 - Glock (Toyota)
Compounds used: Medium / Super Soft
Fastest super soft compound time 1min 26.053secs (Rosberg - FP2)
Fastest medium compound time 1min 26.142secs (Rosberg - FP2)