F1

Massa leads the way in Malaysian GP first practice

Massa leads the way in Malaysian GP first practice

Kimi Raikkonen may have made his mark with Ferrari in Melbourne but it was teammate Felipe Massa who led the way in Friday's opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Massa clocked a best of 1:34.972 at the Sepang circuit while Raikkonen...

Kimi Raikkonen may have made his mark with Ferrari in Melbourne but it was teammate Felipe Massa who led the way in Friday's opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Massa clocked a best of 1:34.972 at the Sepang circuit while Raikkonen was fourth fastest behind the two McLarens.

Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari.
Photo by Hazrin Yeob Men Shah.

Fernando Alonso was second quickest for the Woking squad, two and a half tenths off Massa, and Lewis Hamilton was third. Alonso had a minor off about an hour into the session but there were no real dramas for either McLaren or Ferrari -- despite Raikkonen's suspected cooling problem with his engine the Finn completed 20 laps.

Nico Rosberg was a notable fifth for Williams and the team employed test driver Kazuki Nakajima in place of Alex Wurz. Rosberg was an early visitor to the top of the times but Nakajima had a spin about half way through and caused a yellow flag period. He finished up eighth overall so it wasn't too bad a session for Williams.

Red Bull's Mark Webber posted an equally notable sixth late in the session and teammate David Coulthard was just outside the top ten in 11th. However, Webber was a second and a half off Massa's time and Coulthard a further second down on the Australian's time. Sister team Toro Rosso had Tonio Liuzzi 13th and Scott Speed 18th.

Both Toyotas made it into the top 10, Jarno Trulli seventh and Ralf Schumacher ninth. BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica rounded out the top 10 and the team had test driver Sebastian Vettel in place of Nick Heidfeld, 12th. Vettel was another who made the top of the times early in the session but both he and Kubica were over two seconds off by the end.

The Renaults were some way down the order, Heikki Kovalainen 14th and Giancarlo Fisichella one behind in 15th. Kovalainen set some good times early on but both were over three seconds off Massa's best when the session came to a close. Behind them was the Spyker of Adrian Sutil in 16th and teammate Christijan Albers was at the bottom of the list in 22nd.

After their stellar performance in Australia, the Super Aguri duo of Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson could only manage 17th and 21st respectively and Honda made no impression with Rubens Barrichello 19th and Jenson Button 20th. Vettel completed the most laps this morning, 39, and Coulthard the least with seven.

There's nothing much to be concluded from this first practice, save to see that Ferrari and McLaren once again look to be the teams to beat. No surprises there then, although of the rest Williams and Toyota stood out as being improved. Final top eight classification; Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Webber, Trulli, Nakajima.

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