Friday Practice, Istanbul 2009
It was a relief from F1 politics to watch the practice sessions today in Istanbul, even though the FIA/FOTA war rolled on like a thundercloud on the horizon. News of a possible split from FOTA by Force India added to the unease. And the unexpected results of the sessions did little to ease the tension, Brawn GP apparently not concerned about fastest times and ending up 9th and 8th (Barrichello), 11th and 12th (Button).Lewis Hamilton and the McLaren MP4-24Red Bull too did not perform quite as well they were supposed to, although Vettel managed to stay 5th in the second session after only four laps before being halted with transmission problems. Third favorite, Ferrari, was disappointing, the cars looking nervous on a track they are supposed to excel at, and Massa's 5th in the first session was the best they could do.It looked as though most of the teams were testing and preparing for the race and so Rosberg's traditional fastest lap in the first session was probably less representative of the pecking order than usual. Nakajima backed him up ably, however, and finished the second session fourth quickest and ahead of his team leader.Kovalainen's quickest lap, set quite early in P2, gave some indication of how the McLaren has improved, but Hamilton seemed unable to get the best from it, spinning a few times on the soft option tires. In fact, no one appeared to like the softs, only Alonso getting them to last long enough for a quick lap and setting the second quickest time of P2 in the process.Toyota were fast intermittently, showing that Monaco was an anomaly, while the BMWs seemed to have failed to solve their problems until Kubica went third in the second session. That gives hope at least that the Beemer boys will be able to put up a decent showing in the race.Apart from these few signs, there was little to give pointers to grid order and we will have to wait until tomorrow to see who has made genuine progress and who slipped back. It does seem unlikely that Massa will add a third notch to his tally in Istanbul, however, and the Brawn team will find that they have to work hard for victory this time.There is little to choose between the cars, there being less than two seconds between the fastest and slowest times of both sessions, and any of seven or eight drivers could grab the pole position in qualifying. With Webber looking less comfortable on this circuit, however, I think I will go for a Vettel victory for once. I have a suspicion that the Brawns were not sandbagging and really are not the quickest for once.
With the competition so close and some improvement in passing this year, why does Max insist on mucking up a good thing? And how many of those whodat teams are really ready to put a car on the grid next year? According to Ali's list, max could dump all 8 remaining FOTA teams if he chooses. I think I will be off to sports car racing if I can find it on the tube.
I don't think Max really cares about the quality of the racing - he just wants to show off his power. A series with just the registered new teams would be a joke.
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