kimiwithlolly.jpgKimi eating something that looks suspiciously like a piece of Renault livery

Honda might be joining Williams and Spyker in protesting customer cars after being outpaced by Super Aguiri in Friday’s practice sessions. Jenson Button sounds downbeat about his chances for qualifying in the top 10 – apparently the car is unstable under braking and he is struggling with car balance. Rubens Barrichello caused the first red flag by leaving the race track and attempting to create a track of his own (unfortunately finding the barriers in the process). Maybe Honda would have been better off sticking to their last year’s car judging from SA’s pace. Sporting director Graham Taylor has however downplayed SA’s performance hinting their Friday times don’t indicate the real pace. Good for Honda then. Toyota is in a similar embarrassing position after Williams turned out to be substantially faster despite Webber claiming his former team is a Toyota B team.

Renault’s outing ‘seemed’ disastrous with both cars stopping on track with fuel pump problems, but apparently this is misleading as Autosport claims the car’s pace over long runs is very impressive and second only to Ferrari. A leading technical director (let’s hope it is not Renault TD Bob Bell) thinks Renault might be the surprise package of this weekend. “Today Fisi was super, and I am sorry that we had the problem early with him” says Flavio Briatore, “Without this Fisi was really on top. He was very quick in T1 and in T2, but then he lost some time because we heard the bam, bam, bam noise and we tell him to go ahead”. We don’t know what on earth Flavio is dithering about (what bam, bam, bam noise?), but the gist of it seems to be things look positive for them.

BMW looks competitive, confirming the good form the team showed in preseason testing, and the drivers Hiedfeld and Kubica seem happy with the car. Vettel replaced Kubica in the morning session, and BMW’s decision to have Vettel driving the race car on Fridays continues to cause raised eyebrows (not that Theissen seems to care). McLaren looks set to be Ferrari’s major competitor for the championship, with Lewis Hamilton making a very impressive debut finishing third in the timesheets and Fernando Alonso also looking very strong unsurprisingly. Red Bull and Williams finished with both cars in the top 10 – a promising performance overall, while STR struggled to make it to the top 20 despite having the same (or should I be politically correct and say similar) chassis as Red Bull – which kind of makes you wonder. Spyker didn’t really feature much in the scheme of things.

massa3.jpgSaving the best for the last, Ferrari continues to look very strong, with Felipe Massa setting scorching pace in the afternoon and topping the timesheets and Kimi finishing a close second. “It was a good Friday so I think that is a good start. For sure, it is just a Friday but it already is good to have a good Friday” says Massa. It’s all good then. Felipe Massa seemed to be in an assertive mood as he repeated everything twice. “I know the new rules already. I think it is important to know everything because you are part of the decisions in the race when you are in the car. I know everything. It is important to be aware of everything that is going on in the race (yes, we get it). For sure it is just a Friday, but it is a nice Friday (not a good Friday?)”. But jokes apart, kudos to Felipe and Kimi and to the team for their great showing, it is all looking good for the weekend now.