Exactly three weeks after the Brawn GP team ran the BGP 001 for the firsttime, the car made its competitive debut today at the Albert Park circuit inMelbourne on the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix weekend. DriversJenson Button and Rubens Barrichello took to the track with their helmetsliveried in the team's distinctive yellow, black and white colour scheme tomark the occasion.
Grip levels on the public roads which make up the Albert Park circuit werevery low for the first practice session as the team began working throughtheir Friday programme. The drivers concentrated on refining the balance ofthe BGP 001 to their liking and putting further valuable mileage on the newcar. As the track conditions improved in the second session, the teamcompleted a thorough evaluation of the Bridgestone tyre compounds availablefor this race.
The team's two BGP 001 cars covered 109 laps of the 5.3km (3.3) mile tracktoday, finishing the second practice session with Rubens in second place onthe timesheets and Jenson in fifth position.
Drivers Car No. Chassis No. Free Practice 1Free Practice 2 Rubens Barrichello 23 BGP 001-01 21 laps01:27.226 P4 38 laps 01:26.157 P2 Jenson Button 22 BGP 001-02 12 laps01:27.467 P6 38 laps 01:26.374 P5
Weather Sunny with a light breeze Temperatures Air: 18-19°C Track: 25-33°C
RUBENS BARRICHELLO"To be here in Melbourne is a real achievement for the team and it feelsgood to be back in the car and working towards a race weekend strategyagain. Despite the limited testing time that we were able to do before thisrace, we have proved that we have a competitive car and were achieved somegood work today. We evaluated both tyres and are happy with the overallperformance so I think we have a good chance of a strong qualifyingperformance tomorrow."
JENSON BUTTON"It was great to finally get the season underway today. We had a good firstday of practice and the long run performance looks competitive, particularlyon the harder tyre. We still have some work to do on the softer tyre so thatwill be a priority for tomorrow's practice session. I had traffic on both ofmy new tyres runs at the end of the day which was a shame so we don't knowhow quick we are over one lap yet but there is plenty of time to find thatout tomorrow."
ROSS BRAWN"The circuit at Albert Park is very different to the tracks that we used forour limited pre-season testing programme so our focus today has been onsetting the car up to suit the conditions that we have here and thepreferences of our drivers. Track conditions improved considerably in thesecond session however we are clearly not alone in finding the experience ofrunning slightly later in the day less favourable than anticipated. It is auseful indication of what we may find when the race runs at a similar timeon Sunday. The car performed well and we are pleased with the day's workexperiencing only minor issues which are to be expected with our limitedtesting mileage. A good start to the weekend."