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Barrichello leads Brawn 1-2 in opening session

NEWS STORY
25/09/2009

Ahead of today's first free practice session, the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 33 degrees. As the sun begins to set, the sky is clear.

Despite fears that he might not be taking part due to a bout of food poisoning, Renault's Romain Grosjean has been given the all-clear to participate.

This comes as a bit of welcome news for Renault after what has been a bad weekend for the French outfit, what with the loss of two sponsors yesterday including title sponsor ING. Consequently, the cars are running in white and yellow with the word 'Renault' where 'ING' used to be.

A worrying omen for the weekend ahead, what with forecasts of heavy rain on all three days, is that the timing screens are totally dead.

The lights go green and Alguersuari leads the way. Within the first five minutes almost all the drivers have been out.

It's a poignant sight on the pit-wall at Renault where there are several obvious gaps.

While some teams have already given up on further developments for this season, others have come here with a number of upgrades, most notably BMW.

Thirteen minutes into the session the timing screens finally spring to life, though nobody has yet posted a time.

Twenty-one minutes into the session, Alguersuari and Buemi posts the first times of the day, crossing the line at 1:58.808 and 1:58.916 respectively. Next time around the Swiss driver gets down to 55.715.

Fisichella, Liuzzi, Webber, Grosjean and Nakajima head down the pitlane.

After Rubens Barrichello complained during his installation lap about the bumps, it is now noticeable that a lot of cars are bottoming, throwing up showers of sparks.

As Buemi gets down to 53.757, Fisichella posts 57.517 to go third. Moments later Webber goes second with a 54.790.

After going quickest in the final two sectors, Webber goes quickest overall with a 53.076, ahead of Buemi, Fisichella, Rosberg and Grosjean. Elsewhere, Hamilton, Kovalainen and Raikkonen are all on track.

Having gone second (53.159), Kovalainen spins 360 degrees such is the amount of dust (mostly concrete) on the track.

As Webber improves with a 51.912, Button goes second and Hamilton third, the McLaren driver almost instantly demoted by Rosberg who posts 52.464.

Grosjean spins and clouts the wall, thereby bringing out the red flag. It's not a big crash, however, ironically, it is at precisely the same spot (Turn 17) where Nelson Piquet deliberately crashed last year. Clouds of brake dust billow out from the front and rear of the car.

At half-time, while Grosjean's car is removed from the track, it's: Button, Webber, Kovalainen, Rosberg, Hamilton, Fisichella, Grosjean, Nakajima, Buemi and Raikkonen.

The session resumes at 15:52 (local time), with 37 minutes remaining. All but Vettel, Kubica, Heidfeld, Sutil, Alonso and Barrichello have posted times.

Sutil gets all crossed up and does well to keep it out of the wall, the German losing it on the dust.

Alonso goes fourth with a 52.373, the Spaniard a surprise winner her twelve months ago. Elsewhere, replay shows Button really riding the kerbs.

As Kovalainen goes quickest in the second sector, Rosberg improves to third before being demoted by Alonso. Kovalainen crosses the line at 51.255 to go quickest.

It's a Finnish 1-2 when Raikkonen posts 51.534 to go second, however, moments later Webber improves with a 51.284.

Along with their Virgin logos, the Brawns are sporting large Canon logos on the side, bringing back memories of the Williams in the good old days.

As Barrichello appears to slow, teammate Button goes quickest with a 51.181. There is still concern regarding the Brazilian's gearbox, which is the until he used in Belgium and almost changed in Italy.

Button raises the benchmark with a 50.703 as Hamilton makes it a McLaren 2-3 with a 50.715.

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