#F1 Practice Review: #FP2 #AusGP 2015 – A Rosberg Resurgence

A 19°C ambient temperature with 40 °C track made for good conditions for Free Practice 2, as some stunning images were fed to those around the world who had braved the early start. However, there was a strong breeze which swept over Albert track, coming from the sea just a few miles away and heading towards the city centre. The Toro Rosso rookies were being readied by the team trainer, as seen below.

Eager to make up for lost time earlier, Sauber headed out onto track straight away with a few shakedown issues with braking to start with. The tailwind into turn 1 was affecting the balance of the new challengers as they look to fine tune them for the first time. It was Kimi Raikkonen who set the first time in FP2, a 1:39.368, before Grosjean improved to 1:33.310, as drivers struggled for tyre temperature. Both of their teammates soon joined the circuit to also set lap times, while there were the first signs of trouble down at Red Bull. With the rear off his car, Daniel Ricciardo was not going anywhere fast and decided to join some of the team on the pit lane wall. The Ferrari pair continued to trade quick lap times, as Nico Rosberg came over the radio to report of problems with DRS activation. Even the Champions were shown not to be infallible, or so we thought.

A first red flag of the session was brought out by Kevin Magnussen as his steering seemed to snap back at him into the braking for turn 3. He collided with the tyre barrier and brought an end to his session almost before it had begun – not what the McHonda partnership needed. K-Mag had clearly been taking PR lessons from Eric ‘the believable’, as immediately after the crash over team radio he reported not knowing what happened to the car, but within 5 minutes of being back in the garage he tweeted about how it was all his fault…hmmm.

A water leak on the Williams of Felipe Massa meant he was to be confined to the garage for some time longer, which eventually turned into a session ending issue.

Just before the half hour mark we were treated to the first sight of Jenson Button out on track, even if his lap time was some 6 seconds off the fastest. Rosberg continued to report inconsistencies with the car, as he chose to rejoin the fray with medium tyres. The ominous sign, that even with car issues and on the prime tyre, the 2014 runner-up was within touching distance of the fastest time set. That said, for some the soft ‘option’ tyre did not seem to make a great deal of difference as they struggled to get heat into the 2015 compounds.

Sauber difficult start time down under continued when Marcus Ericsson’s C34 left-rear suspension broke exiting the last corner. He was forced to limp around for the whole lap, almost being collected by Romain Grosjean when he got out of shape.

Normal service was resumed as the two Mercedes W06s went 1-2 in the timesheets, after strapping on the soft tyres. A 1:27.697 was the headline time for the session for Nico Rosberg, as Lewis Hamilton trailed him 0.100 off, with the two Ferraris 0.715s and 1.145s away (Vettel and Raikkonen respectively).

With just over an hour to go we were still left waiting Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and the two Manor Racing cars – none of whom would be seen. The reborn team were struggling with powertrain integration issues, so, to nobodies surprise, they sat out the day. If those at Woking did not already have a headache then this would compound them to one; even with soft tyres on the MP4-30 the car was still three and half seconds off the pace – the only solace that can be taken is that this was within the 107% required to race. This, a complete opposite to Mercedes who had already moved onto fine tuning practice starts, such is their confidence already!

The teammate comparison of greatest interest was the difference between Carlos Sainz Jr and his fellow rookie Max Verstappen, as the Spaniard was well over a second quicker at this point. The team were, somewhat predictably, tight lipped about any problem being suffered by the Dutchman. The Madrid born driver then spun at the penultimate turn showing the difficulties in handling the STR10.

As the long runs commenced, it was predictably the Mercedes who were head and shoulders above the competition. The soft running long runs initial pace in the 1:32s was impressive, as nobody else could lap in the same time zone, although, once more, Nico Rosberg struggled with fuel economy. On the laps where the German was followed by the FOM cameras the car looked like it was on rails, with none of the problems of turn in experienced by others, including Daniil Kvyat in the sole charging Red Bull.

Force India continued with a routine day, where nothing spectacular was posted, the lack of winter running coming back to bite them – as was predicted here at TJ13. The Lotus pair look to be well ahead of the Silverstone based team, as the switch to Mercedes power looked to be paying dividends.

With 6 minutes left, Jenson Button reported a loss of power having completed 21 laps in the session. He returned to the pit complex leaving only a handful of drivers out on track, as his 2013 teammate, Checo Perez, showed a better long-run pace than single lap runs (as reported by his engineer).

A first sign of hope for the Tifosi was given by Kimi Raikkonen as he was in impervious form on the soft tyre long-run. After 15 laps on the tyre he was lapping quicker than the Mercedes cars – perhaps the first signs of a return to the Kimi of 2012/13. His German teammate seemed to struggle on to maintain his boots – advantage Kimi in the battle of Maranello?

Daniil Kvyat provided a fantastic moment for the cameras as he ran wide, then spat up a shower of sparks as he rejoined the asphalt. He did not take part with the ‘Virtual Safety Car’ practice at the end of the session, which Charlie Whiting continues to test as a method of ‘neutralising the field.’ Only time will tell as to the success of it.

The great unknown for the session was Williams, as only one car running meant there was not too much that could be deciphered from Bottas’ times. They have kept their cards close to their chest, while Ferrari made a big statement of intention with the 1-2 in the best of the rest stakes.

All to play for down under then, so if you have not signed up for the TJ13 GP Predictor league then follow the link and do so now.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:27.697 29
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.797 0.100 25
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:28.412 0.715 33
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:28.842 1.145 33
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.265 1.568 32
6 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:30.016 2.319 27
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:30.071 2.374 41
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:30.104 2.407 11
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:30.205 2.508 37
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:30.473 2.776 30
11 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:30.755 3.058 33
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:30.980 3.283 32
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:31.387 3.690 21
14 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:31.395 3.698 6
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:32.303 4.606 14
16 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:33.289 5.592 4
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
Felipe Massa Williams
Will Stevens Caterham
Roberto Merhi Marussia

57 responses to “#F1 Practice Review: #FP2 #AusGP 2015 – A Rosberg Resurgence

  1. ‘Resurgence’ already, let Nico, at least start winning races before such talk, have you forgotten 2014 already?

    • He looked far more comfortable in both practice sessions, although you make a good point, how much can you really tell from a Friday?

      • Given Lewis was rarely seen or heard from throughout those sessions, not sure how we can gauge how comfortably he looked in the car.

        Actually Kimi’s stint was quite impressive, he did something like 14 laps on the options and at one point was faster than the Mercs. He did 4-5 to consecutive laps in the 32.5’s. Nico’s fastest time was a 1:31.7 and Kimi was a 1:31.8.

        • TJ13, as ever, has eyes and ears on the ground in Melbourne. Given the problems Rosberg was experiencing and Lewis still did not go fastest, the Briton has some work to do overnight.

          • It’s called practice for a reason, it really doesn’t matter who goes fastest does it?

            They both have work to do, because they both complained about the balance.

        • I agree. Practice is just that. If anything I thing Hamilton holds back in P1-3 & Q1 on the basis of trying to spring a shock on his team mates when it’s too late to do anything about it.

          I fully expect Lewis to take pole on Saturday, I think this kind of track really suits his aggressive style. Come race day, that’s when things get interesting.

    • As I have declared often here, I am a dedicated Lewis fan.
      However, I would make this comment regardless of who was leading in any practice session – even if it was Lewis leading the time sheets.

      My comment: It is very poor jounalism (perhaps suited to the red tops) to headline a 0.1 sec advantage as “resurgence” when comparing a lap time of 87.697 sec with a time of 87.797 – i.e. a difference of the order of 1/877 .

      • Given the amount of people who had written him off after last season it was a resurgence. He looked genuinely quicker from the TV pictures and the reports we had from people on the ground. He was rarely quicker than Lewis last year so this is important news. As for the time difference, I take your point there. On first glance it would seem that way, but Rosberg had car troubles throughout the session – in truth the advantage is far greater in equal cars.

        • You keep saying Nico had car troubles, what were those troubles?

          From the interviews I’ve seen from both drivers, the complained about the same thing, not being able to get the balance they both want.

          If the trouble you are eluding to is Nico being told more than once that his fuel consumption was too high, then surely that’s a problem.

          People are still writing him off and a resurgence in free practice is nothing to be cheering about, especially if we go by what happened last season.

          • Predicting how drivers will fare is as reliable as predicting the stock market. But we love to do it anyway. Nico may have a more mature mindset than Hamilton. Married and apparently settled versus Lewis big public break up and internet post of himself shooting his bare butt personal trainer with paintballs giggling like a little girl. That may not be a predictor of talent or outcome but I know who I would want to hire, who I would want on my team.

          • I’m not sure what your comment has to do with anything that’s being discussed at present.

            But yea, I know who I’d want in my team. I’d go for the immature, jovial, shooting your trainer on his naked a$$ with a paint ball gun, big public breakups, 30+ wins/poles and a double WDC any day over the more settled, mature married man who has his life perfectly sorted.

            But hey, you can’t please everyone.

          • A very good point Fortis. Guess that’s one of many reasons I’m not running a F1 team.

  2. Bernie et al continue destroying what is left of Formula 1. Today I -we- discovered that is no longer possible to watch ANY session live on TV in Latin America, including the race itself. I guess that report published here several months ago here that the rights were sold to an non-existent “media company” was right and this group of speculators neither have a TV channel to transmit nor they will allow others to do it right.

      • There isn’t pay per view option. I’m sure that was their plan but the 24-hours-a-day-F1-channel-for-latin-america announced by the judge months ago doesn’t exist. I’m guessing they simply sold the rights to speculators to obtain more money. If somebody is capable of actually watching the races or wants to see them one day later they don’t care because they already have their money.
        Also Fox Sports moved F1 from their main channel to Fox Sports 3 -I’m guessing they purchased the rights from this speculators but weren’t allowed to broadcast live or the prices were so ridiculous they preferred not to pay them-. Fox Sports 3 isn’t available in all cable systems, which means F1’s ratings will fall even more this year.
        And yes, I had to watch P1 and P2 streamed on the internet.

        • By the way judge, do you know who is the current rights holder for Latin America? I remember you mentioned an Spanish company.

        • Actually… There is. If you have access to th Sky latin american system then turn over to channel 561. It’s a dedicated F1 channel that launched yesterday, unfortunately not in HD. The hosts are Spanish which sort of screws it all but hey, it’s live. Plus if you’re an Alonso fan you’ll love the lavishing, constant praise of the Samurai. They are also quite enamored with Sainz.

          • Forgot to add, this is the reason Fox LA isn’5 broadcasting live, they were not granted rights for the live showing because they created their own channel.

          • And now we have HD! Channel 1561. Still the same Spaniards on the “latinamerican” channel, sort of like anniuncing an american broadcast full of Brits,LOL I think I’ll mute them and listen to the BBC broadcast that comes with the F1 app. It’s that bad.

  3. Poor old Jenson, bet he’s got a sense of deja vu today. Last time he was in a Honda powered car it was stuck to the back of the grid. It’s really not good enough from them with all the time they’ve had. Even Renault weren’t this bad last year!

  4. Wow, Caterham have risen from the ashes too – on the timesheet with Will Stevens at the wheel 😉
    If anyone wrote a plot for a TV soap opera using the lead up to this year’s season as a guide they would have been laughed out of the room. Reality is sometimes stranger than fiction…
    Great site everyone, thanks to all contributors

  5. Still think Mclaren’s ERS troubles are not sorted. They are running down on power i guess. Did Button do any long runs with fuel aboard?

    • Yes, but it was very down on pace. If times today are to be believed, they will struggle to get out of Q1!

  6. Was at the gp all day at turns 3 and 4.Mercs look good . No one’s going to beat them . One of the dullest days we’ve seen at Albert Park. We should have gone and waited outside the Supreme Court. Much more action there.It was incredible that the circuit commentary never once mentioned the Sauber vs Guido battle.

  7. btw this top 10 is almost what I have for the race on my go predictor. (I didn’t include the lotusses)

  8. Off topic but please help. I bought 2015 Season Access on my iPhone App. Now I’m browsing f1.com and see they have a additional “Access Content”. Can I somehow unlock this content if I bought seasno access onmy iPhone? How?

    • It shouldn’t matter what device you use phone, pc or laptop, because it’s linked to the email address you used when setting up the account and which pass you bought.

      There’s a 1 minute video that you can watch which gives details of what’s available.

      • I didn’t set up any account on F1 app/site I just bought access in the app. Unless if you mean my iTunes account. Should I enter my iTunes email and password in F1 site? This is not how this should work …

      • Yeah but buying the app *doesn’t* set you up with a password. I even tried entering my email and resetting and they never sent me a link. They’ve properly bollixed it up

    • In the same boat, bought the app and it doesn’t work at all. Only shows me a blank track and I have no access to the info I had last year.

      Plus, as you point out, there is no way to access the website as buying the app doesn’t set you up with a password for the site. It’s a honking pile of sh*t ATM and coverage will suffer as a result.

      I hope they get it sorted fast.

  9. I get the feeling that once Honda+McLaren sort out the gremlins and can turn the power plant up, they may have a really solid car. Reports from trackside suggest that when JB was running, the car was planted through the corners but when on the straights, it was a sitting duck.

    Or is that just me and my wishful thinking? 🙂

    • Thats exactly what i saw when i watched it this morning, a TR and RB shot past him on the straights, but he seemed to be able to stay with them quite easily through the corners.

    • I think you’re spot on. It’s pretty much what happened with RBR last year. I think the McLaren chassis is very good, not that far off Merc’s and RBR’s, problem is the engine.

    • Dusted by a Renault? Ouch that’s not good. It sounds like the Renault cars from 2014. It’s a real test of driver to overtake when you’ve got a significant top speed deficit, you need balls and to be last of the late brakers.

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