So it appears that the promised rain, thunder and lightning has stayed away from Sepang, as both the first practices went ahead without so much as a drop falling on the Malaysian circuit.
Both the morning and the afternoon sessions were dominated by the Ferraris and it wasn’t until later on in the second that Hamilton managed to record a 1:35.055.
Almost all the teams managed to complete their programs although, worryingly for Red Bull, they suffered an engine failure. Here’s to hoping that this isn’t a premonition of things to come. If Webber and Coulthard could find just a little more ‘luck’, they would be challenging for points positions on a regular basis. As was mentioned after Australia, where Webber was involved in the first lap accident, “if something is going to happen; it’ll happen to Mark.”
Button surprised perhaps even himself by finishing the second of the two practices in fourth place. But he was adamant that come tomorrow, he wouldn’t be so high up the time sheets. “I’m not interested in the position or the times today,” Button announced after the two sessions and, in a way, he has a point.
With most of the teams testing the hard and soft compound tyres and making tweaks to set-ups, one of the last things they are concerned with is where they appear on the lap times. They score no points for topping a practice timesheet, and they have tomorrow to really push the cars in the final session, for now the important thing is to get the cars working properly.
But that certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t get an idea of who is adapting well to the humidity in Malaysia, even if some of the results can be a little misleading. I don’t think that Button, Trulli, or indeed Fisichella will stay as competitive as they were in the second practice. Of course, there is always the possibility that we have another first lap crash extravaganza as some of the drivers are pushing ‘non-traction control cars’ too hard on lukewarm tyres but besides this, I suggest the Ferraris are going to be extremely hard to beat, Hamilton may well trouble them but he is going to have to get his set-up absolutely spot on since he is in what seems to be the slower car.
Which other team could be in the points is a hard one to call; although the Renaults looked quick in the first session, they failed to improve enough in the second and were bumped down to 14th and 15th place, the BMWs are there, as are the Williams’.
Whatever happens it’ll be a close run thing; in the second practice a second on the timesheets covered as many as 8 cars. Bring on qualifying.