McLaren fires first shot for FP1

McLaren kicked off the first session of the 2012 season with a Jenson Button-led one-two at Albert Park.
The Briton’s time of 1minute 27.560seconds was enough to pip his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just two-tenths of a second.
An energetic looking Michael Schumacher managed the third fastest time of the session, with a 1:28.235 in his mysterious Mercedes W03.
Fernando Alonso moved clocked the fourth-fastest time, a 1:28.360. The Spaniard was set to move further up the timesheet, however, but a mistake on the exit of the final corner scuppered his chances.
Australian Mark Webber rounded out the top five with a 1:28.467. His team-mate and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel was timed at eleventh, with a 1:29.790.
Felipe Massa started what many tip to be his final year at the Scuderia by beaching his Ferrari in the gravel on the outside of turn nine after losing control of the car on the bumpy approach to the bend.
Other notable incidents include Both HRT and Marussia fielding cars at some point throughout the session – though Hispania only ran one of its cars, which soon suffered engine temperature problems and stopped on track.
Of most intrigue was Mercedes’ performance. The team has held its cards close to its chest through the pre-season, but it has recently become clear that it is running a system similar to that of the McLaren ‘F-duct’ from 2010.
The FIA moved to make the F-duct legal from 2011, but only went so far as to outlaw driver-operated concepts. The Mercedes solution appears to rely on the operation of the DRS, and has since been declared legal by the governing body.

‘Something often said of banned developments in F1, is that once understood no solution can be unlearnt.’

No other team appears to be running the design, but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has suggested that most outfits will now move to replicate it in their challengers.
You can read a particularly good description of the device’s workings on Craig Scarborough’s technical blog.
Will any of this end up meaning anything? Who knows. But we do know that Formula One takes to Albert Park for a second time this afternoon from 4:30Pm AEDT.


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