Sauber have difficult first practice session down under

by David Bean

Sauber recovered after a nightmare first practice for the Australian Grand Prix to finish 12th and 13th in a trouble-free Friday afternoon session.

In first practice Kamui Kobayashi ripped half the front wing of his car when he collided with a cone after completing only a few laps. The new front wing came off the car on the next run, and the Japanese driver could only manage five laps in that session.

Teammate Pedro de la Rosa faired little better, stopping out on track with a clutch problem with ten minutes of the session remaining.

The amount of running the two drivers could do in the second practice session was limited by light showers falling over Albert Park.

Pedro de la Rosa did say that the car felt improved since the team’s disastrous start to the season. “Generally the car feels better than in Bahrain, which is good news. Of course more running would have helped to improve the set-up, but I can't complain as I had some dry running.”

Kobayashi summarised his eventful debut practice session in Australia and said that the team still need to improve on the set-up before qualifying. “In the first session I came too close to that cone and hit it, and then I could not do anymore running after I lost the new front wing. Of course I would have liked to do more laps, but the rain in the second session did not help. However, I still got a good feeling for the track. We will now concentrate and work on improving the car, the main problem is an overall lack of grip.”

Technical Director Willy Rampf said that the team unsurprisingly didn’t manage all the preparation they would have liked to do today. “In the first practice we lost time on Kamui's car due to a broken front wing mounting. This resulted from damage earlier to the wing. Pedro was hindered by a clutch control problem in the first free practice and also lost some time.

“In FP1 we tested a new rear wing. However, there was not enough time to collect sufficient data, therefore we decided to go back to the previous version and concentrate on working on the set-up of the car. Due to the mixed weather conditions in the second session we were not able to complete our programme. However, I think we found a baseline for tomorrow.”

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