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Australian GP: Friday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
27/03/2009

How have the first official practice sessions been for you? Mark, can you give a rough run down of how it has been?
Mark Webber: It didn't go that well in the first session. We didn't get that many laps in. We had a problem with the seal on the drive shaft and obviously we were pretty keen to do a bit more running in the second session which was going to plan until we had another small problem with the exhaust. Certainly not ideal in terms of reliability today, but not too bad pace-wise when we are out there. We will see how it goes for the rest of the weekend but reasonably encouraged. I have not really had a decent look at the times to be honest because I had to come straight here, so I don't know what else went on with other people, but we got on okay.

Sebastien, how was your first day?
Sebastien Buemi: Everything was new for me today and I had to discover a lot of things. But I would say that the first practice went quite well and we did a lot of laps. You have got to learn the circuit as it is quite tricky out there. In the second session we had some small issues, but in general I am quite happy with how it went. I still need to learn a lot of things, so for the moment we are working hard and we will see what we can achieve tomorrow.

Fernando?
Fernando Alonso: It was fine. Obviously the first day is always difficult starting the championship with many things to discover in terms of the car. It is also the first time we test in warm conditions after being in winter in Europe, so useful information always on Friday. We try to analyse all the information tonight and tomorrow and hope to have a better car. That is quite normal between Friday and Saturday, we test a couple of things overnight.

Lewis?
Lewis Hamilton: My day has not been too bad. It is great to be back. Obviously we are not as quick as we would love to be but we are working very hard and we got though quite a good programme and made some decent steps for us at least. Don't really know what everyone else is doing on the track but I am happy with what we have done today.

Lewis, we heard you say that the car was bottoming all the time and was really very difficult to drive.
LH: Yeah, it is a very bumpy track, so I think at the time we were just a bit too low. That's what happens when you are on heavier fuel, so we will make some changes to make sure that doesn't happen anymore.

You were very quick on the straight as well, fastest by about two or three kpm. Does that suggest you are not running a lot of downforce?
LH: No, it just means we have got a good Mercedes Benz engine.

But where is the car lacking as testing has not been particularly good?
LH: In general it is a good car, it is just general lack of grip everywhere pretty much. It is not particularly one area of the track, it is everywhere. We cannot carry the speeds through the corners that we would like. It is predominantly aero and we are working very hard. We have made some steps forward with it and for sure the gap to the others is nowhere near as big as it was back in Barcelona but we have still got a long way to go. The guys back at the factory are working very hard to rectify that. There is no quick fix. It is going to take some time.

Were you still trying new bits today? Is there still a flow of bits coming from the factory?
LH: No, today we didn't try any new bits. We had everything we needed on but I am sure over the course of the first few races that there will be some new bits coming.

How much were you using KERS today and how much were you adjusting the front wing?
LH: I didn't use the front wings, it wasn't beneficial to me today as I didn't need it. With the KERS we use it. You use it over a lap. On the longer runs it is learning how to manage it but we don't seem to have any problems with that.

Fernando, same question to you. How much were you using the front wing adjustor and how much were you using KERS?
FA: Same answer. KERS every lap and the front wing I didn't touch it today.

Do you think you might use it more in the race?
FA: No.

How different did the car feel today compared to testing?
FA: No big difference. I think every track is a bit different and you need to adapt the set-up a little bit to the track and also to the conditions. Today it was very windy and we expect some windy conditions for tomorrow and Sunday, so we need to accommodate a little bit to that and we need to do small set-up changes also for that. It was the same in the winter from Portimao to Barcelona to Jerez, always different tracks. Some of them a little bit bumpy, some of them slow speed corners or high speed corners, so small things that you always adapt to the track and today we tried to work on that. We came from a set-up more or less similar to what we thought was the right one from the last test in Jerez and regarding last year's set-up here as well with last year's car, so between everything we choose our set-up and now we are just tuning a little bit.

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