The weather was at least dry Saturday afternoon for the final Formula One practice at Albert Park. If this keeps up, we could see a dry Qantas Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne Sunday evening. The temperature gauge was 61 degrees F’16.9 C. Whatever it was, the times kept dropping. Five drivers were faster than the lap set Friday afternoon by JENSON BUTTON/Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing wound up on top with a new fast lap of 1:24.507. He took the time away from his teammate, MARK WEBBER of Australia. Other leaders during the hour-long session were Rookie SERGIO PEREZ/Sauber F1 Team; and HEIKKI KOVALAINEN/Team Lotus, making up for lost time after yesterday having to share one car with his teammate, JARNO TRULLI, after the reserve driver, KARUN CHANDHOK, drove it into the wall on his Out Lap.

Petrov's Lotus Renault GP
Petrov's Lotus Renault GP. Photo by Lynne Huntting
Included in the top ten were LEWIS HAMILTON and JENSON BUTTON/Vodafone McLaren Mercedes; VITALY PETROV/Lotus Renault GP; FERNANDO ALONSO/Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro; KAMUI KOBAYASHI/Sauber F1 Team; NICO ROSBERG/Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team; NICK HEIDFELD/Lotus Renault GP, filling in this season for the injured ROBERT KUBICA; and MICHAEL SCHUMACHER/Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team.

All 24 drivers were on course, albeit for varying amounts of time. Two drivers turned 18/the most laps: Petrov and JARNO TRULLI/Team Lotus. The HRT drivers both were on course, albeit for the fewest laps of any. NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN turned five laps, while VITANTONIO LUIZZIdid his garage to garage lap again. They’re making progress.

There are four Stewards making the decisions this weekend – Former F1 driver and 1991 winner, JOHNNY HERBERT – as the designated driver; PAUL GUTJAHR of Switzerland, past President of many Swiss automotive organizations, and a F1 Steward since 1995; STEVE STRINGWELL of England, member of the Motor Sports Council-including joining its National Court, steward in many high-level motorsports events, and Chairman of Support Race Stewards at the British Grand Prix for five years; and local Steward STEVE CHOPPING, who has been the Australian ASN F1 Steward before. He is the Permanent Chairman of the Stewards V8 Supercar Championship Series, among other appointments.

Among the decisions they’ve made so far was to approve three reserve drivers for Friday morning practice – the ill-fated KARUN CHANDHOK for JARNO TRULLI/Team Lotus; NICO HULKENBURG for PAUL Di RESTA/Force India F1 Team; and Australian DANIEL RICHARD for JAIME ALGUERSUARI/Scuderio Toro Rosso.

Hulkenberg celebrated his ride by (barely) speeding in Pit Lane, earning a $600 Euro fine.

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the Driver Adjustable bodywork. Within an hour of the first Friday practice session, F1 Race Director, CHARLIE WHITING, issued a Team Note which confirmed for safety reasonsthe driver adjustable bodywork could not be operated in any practice or qualifying session if the car is running intermediate or wet tires. Disobedient drivers would be reported to the Stewards for a breach of “dangerous construction.” This bodywork situation has been a work in progress. Stay tuned.

Qualifying is at 5 pm local time.