Sepang, Friday April 3
7 laps 1m38.483s (20th)
Heikki conducted a single installation lap to evaluate some new bodywork. His first run of the morning (three laps/1m38.483s best) was cut short by traffic and a locked front-right wheel, which flat-spotted the tyre. With the flat-spot compromising efforts, the team shifted emphasis to aero mapping. Heikki completed a final single-lap run before the deteriorating front-right prompted a precautionary halt to proceedings.
“The track grip was immediately good, and less dusty than in Australia,” Heikki said. “We’ve made some good progress with the car’s development.”
40 laps 1m36.397s (9th)
The team switched to longer runs for the afternoon, carrying out a number of longer runs on both the prime and option tyre. Heikki completed four runs, switching between the option and the prime: 10 laps/1m37.640s; 11 laps/1m37.099s; 11 laps/1m36.401s and four laps/1m36.397s.
“As we started pushing, the car started to move around quite a bit and was more difficult to drive,” Heikki concluded. “But our consistency over the long runs looks quite promising. I just need some aircon in the car – it’s totally boiling!”
16 laps 1m36.699s (7th)
Bodywork and aero evaluation filled the morning’s programme. Lewis tried some new components, setting a 1m38.009s best on his four-lap baseline run. “I had no particular issues with the car this morning,” he said.
“Clearly, we still need a bit more grip but our balance, particularly through the high-speed stuff, felt good. The car felt stronger than I expected.” Lewis completed a second run (five laps/1m36.699s) but a final run was curtailed when Lewis hit a bump, locked both wheels and ran wide into the Turn 15 gravel, he continued back to the pits.
11th 1m36.515s (11th)
With the team following a very disciplined programme throughout the day, neither driver was particularly pushing for a laptime, resulting in Heikki and Lewis finishing the afternoon session in ninth and 11th respectively. Lewis carried out four runs: five laps/1m37.950s; nine laps; 1m37.593s; eight laps/1m36.626s; four laps/1m36.515s. The sweltering conditions required monitoring of MP4-24’s cooling systems, particularly the KERS installation, which has not been tested in such extremes, but the two cars ran reliably in both sessions.
MARTIN WHITMARSHTeam principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Once again, we fully utilised the track time during both Friday practice sessions to refine the bodywork developments we are making to MP4-24 and focus on set-up ahead of Sunday’s grand prix – a race we anticipate will be one of the hottest and most demanding of the year. MP4-24 continues to evolve, and today’s programme underlines the encouraging progress we feel we are making with the car.”
NORBERT HAUGVice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We compared both tyre compounds and posted consistent laptimes. After today, I would not say that we made a step forward but at least it looks as if we are headed in the right direction. The team improved quite a lot since the team test in Barcelona less than a month ago. But everybody inside Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is aware that we still have a lot of work ahead of us until we will be back at the top.”
Session 2Pos Driver Constructor Time Laps 1 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 1m35.707 40 2 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 1m35.832 38 3 Sebastien Vettel Red Bull Racing 1m35.954 40 4 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 1m36.015 39 5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1m36.026 36 6 Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP 1m36.161 37 7 Jenson Button Brawn GP 1m36.254 31 8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams F1 1m36.290 35 9 Heikki Kovalainen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m36.397 40 10 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1m36.401 35 11 Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m36.515 30 12 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1m36.516 34 13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m36.628 32 14 Timo Glock Toyota 1m36.639 29 15 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m36.640 20 16 Adrian Sutil Force India 1m36.875 36 17 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1m37.267 38 18 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1m37.278 30 19 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1m37.432 27 20 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1m37.930 37
Session 1Pos Driver Constructor Time Laps 1 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 1m36.260 27 2 Kazuki Nakajima Williams F1 1m36.305 25 3 Jenson Button Brawn GP 1m36.430 20 4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP 1m36.487 22 5 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 1m36.561 21 6 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 1m36.646 18 7 Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m36.699 16 8 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1m36.703 23 9 Sebastien Vettel Red Bull Racing 1m36.747 25 10 Timo Glock Toyota 1m36.980 27 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1m36.982 26 12 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1m37.025 20 13 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1m37.039 18 14 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1m37.199 20 15 Adrian Sutil Force India 1m37.241 18 16 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m37.395 12 17 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1m37.634 22 18 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1m37.640 17 19 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m38.022 19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m38.483 7