Reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) blasted to the top of the timesheets with Bridgestone's medium compound Potenza tyre on the opening day of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the first season with Bridgestone as the Official...
Reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) blasted to the top of the timesheets with Bridgestone's medium compound Potenza tyre on the opening day of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the first season with Bridgestone as the Official Tyre Supplier.
Raikkonen set a time of 1min 26.461secs at the 5.30km Albert Park track, scene of the ING Australian Grand Prix in the Victoria State capital of Melbourne. His time was set in the day's first 90 minute practice session and he was almost half a second faster than the next quickest driver, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes).
The afternoon practice session saw Hamilton go quickest using the soft compound with a slightly slower time than the morning's fastest, with a 1min 26.599secs. Hamilton displaced local hero Mark Webber (Red Bull) who had been quickest for most of the session with a 1min 27.473secs.
Both Bridgestone's medium and soft compound were put through their paces in searing temperatures on the street course, set in picturesque parkland south of Melbourne's city centre. The morning session was briefly interrupted with red flags after Nelson Piquet (Renault) span, whilst many competitors had moments off the track as they sought faster times.
The best lap time achieved today was almost a second quicker than the fastest Friday lap last year, a 1min 27.353secs, set by Felipe Massa (Ferrari), although the weather was less favourable in 2007.
Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said:
"It was good to have the first sessions at a grand prix after a long off season of testing. Despite the hot weather here in Melbourne our tyres performed reasonably. Although we saw today's fastest lap set using the medium compound, I expect the soft compound to be the quicker for most competitors, with the medium offering more durable and consistent performance. However, it is very difficult to judge which driver is quicker, as the teams will use different set-ups, for example with fuel load. Although we have high temperatures for Melbourne, we did see a hotter track last season using these compounds, for example in Indianapolis, so we do not have concerns. As expected, the track started dirty and we expect it to improve over the weekend and we should see less graining because of this."
Stats of the Day
Total amount of laps completed by all drivers: 979 laps
Average number of laps per driver: 44.5 laps
Most laps by a driver: 62 - Sebastian Vettel
Fastest lap: 1min 26.461secs - Raikkonen (FP1)
Compounds used: Medium / Soft
Qualifying in 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) set pole position using the soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tyre last season with a time of 1min 26.072secs, over four tenths quicker than the second fastest driver, Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes). Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) were on the second row.