The first practice sessions for the 2010 Formula One season got underway today in the searing heat of the desert at the Bahrain International Circuit. Taking to the track in the new Silver Arrows cars, the Mercedes GP Petronas pairing of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher began their preparations for the first Grand Prix of the season.
The ninety-minute morning session gave both drivers the opportunity to try out the revised circuit layout with its eight new corners for the first time as they completed initial installation and set-up work on the MGP W01 cars. With both drivers experiencing some balance issues, the team worked hard on the solutions during the break and enjoyed a more positive second session, focusing on further set-up developments and tyre comparisons over runs of varying length.
Nico completed 38 laps over the course of the two sessions, setting a quickest time of 1:55.409 to top the timesheets. Michael completed 39 laps with a quickest time of 1:55.903 and finished in third position.
Nico Rosberg: "We improved the car over the course of the day but it didn't feel great initially with the new track, lower downforce and the conditions were very sandy this morning. So we had a few balance issues to work on but it came together very well this afternoon. There are areas where we can still improve but we have a good comparison with the tyre compounds and on the long runs. Overall we learnt a great deal today so it's a positive start to the weekend."
Michael Schumacher: "We worked very well this afternoon after having a few issues with the balance this morning. The car felt much better in the second session although I am still a little rusty on one lap runs and need to get back into the routine. On the long runs, the car felt good and once you get into the rhythm, it feels very natural. I'm happy with our work today and feeling ready for the weekend."
Ross Brawn: "After the development and testing work over the winter months, it was good to see the cars in action here in Bahrain today. We worked well to overcome some initial balance concerns which Nico and Michael experienced and achieved some very valuable work this afternoon. I feel we still need to make some progress so we need to wait and see how we will match up to our competitors when qualifying gets underway tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "The afternoon session went better than the first one this morning. We ran through our planned programme and the team, Nico and Michael got a good understanding of the two different tyre compounds. It looks like we are heading in the right direction but it is definitely too early to say how everybody will perform in tomorrow's first qualifying session of the new season and on Sunday during the race. I expect very strong competitors."