Kubica fastest in Australia Friday practice 1

Robert Kubica in Friday Practice 1 today

Robert Kubica in Friday Practice 1 today

Robert Kubica topped the Friday Practice 1 session, as two stoppages disrupted the session.

Kubica’s best lap of 1.26.927, set during a five-lap stint, was enough to put him on top, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button. Nico was 0.199 seconds off the Pole, with Button 0.555 behind.

The session was disrupted by two stoppages, both caused by Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber. The first time, he hit a cone at Turn 12, damaging his front wing, and leaving debris across the track. The session was halted while the track was cleared. But, after Kobayashi left the pits, his front wing collapsed just before Turn 3, and he stopped out on track.

Kamui Kobayashi has a front wing failure at Turn 3

Kamui Kobayashi has a front wing failure at Turn 3

This second problem was probably caused by a poor repair of the first breakage.

Traffic seemed to be a huge problem at Albert Park this year, as there was very little space in between the cars on track. You can have a look for yourself at the video embedded below, of footage from practice there.

The new combination kerbs at Turn 9 caused a few problems. These new kerbs are high at the front end and low at the back side, which disencourages drivers from hitting them too hard. They were designed to stop corner-cutting at Turn 9. Both Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen spun here in Practice 1.

Paul di Resta made his first official F1 appearance, taking part in the pratice sessions only this weekend. He finished 11th, 0.3 seconds slower than his team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi. I have to say, he did a very good job today. This idea from Force India of using reserve drivers in Friday practice sessions is just what we need to get more yound drivers in Formula 1. Not that there’s a shortage of course, it’s just very difficult at the moment for young drivers to get into the sport.

Timo Glock was the slowest driver of the session, 7.998 seconds off Kubica’s time. He suffered problems with the car across the session. Also, there are rumours that Virgin will have to redesign the back of their cars, because the fuel tanks aren’t big enough to hold a race fuel load. Unless corrected by tomorrow, expect this to be a problem for the team on Sunday.

Lotus have moved away considerably from Virgin, while HRT have made excellent imrovements from Bahrain. Bruno Senna was only half a second behind Lucas di Grassi’s time, with Karun Chandhok another 0.8 seconds back. The team managed 24 and 19 laps with each driver, and there was only one stoppage for them, so reliability is much improved as well. This is a good sign towards a race finish on Sunday.

Pictures of both practice sessions will be up in a few hours, while an analysis piece should be done by tonight.

Here’s a video of Mark Webber showing us a lap of Melbourne (available in full HD):

Here’s another video, this time of spectator footage at 3 different points on the track. Note the lack of track space available to each driver:

Times for Friday practice 1:

Driver Team Time Difference # of laps
1 Robert Kubica Renault 1.26.927 22
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.27.126 0.199 18
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.27.482 0.555 22
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.27.511 0.584 18
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.27.686 0.759 23
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.27.747 0.820 21
7 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.27.793 0.866 22
8 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.28.014 1.087 21
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.28.114 1.187 18
10 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.28.192 1.265 18
11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1.28.537 1.610 25
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.28.550 1.623 19
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.28.572 1.645 21
14 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.28.683 1.756 22
15 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.29.465 2.538 13
16 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.29.712 2.785 18
17 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.30.249 3.322 26
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.31.588 4.661 5
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.31.652 4.725 13
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.31.654 4.727 26
21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.32.831 5.904 25
22 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.33.401 6.474 24
23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.34.251 7.324 19
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.34.925 7.998 8
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