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A Friday in Melbourne

First practice day of the new season and form in testing is confirmed on the track so far. The two Ferraris fastest, Massa ahead of Raikkonen, the McLarens quick, with Hamilton third and Alonso seventh, it’s business as usual. Well, apart from a few minor anomalies, that is.

Melbourne

There’s Fizzy in fourth, for instance – wasn’t he supposed to be blown away by Kovalainen this season? But Renault had a disastrous practice, so maybe Heikki didn’t get a decent run. Neither did the Fizz but we’ll ignore that for the moment. None of this is very meaningful anyway, it being very early days yet.

Moving down the list, the Beemers are up there in fifth and ninth, Heidfeld ahead of Kubica, but yesterday’s man (in more ways than one), Alex Wurz, grabbed sixth fastest, thereby beating the more fancied Nico Rosberg and giving hope to the Williams faithful. Nothing wrong with the Toyota engine, it would seem, so what are the factory team (12th and 16th) doing wrong?

With David Coulthard unpredictably completing the top ten, we begin to see a pattern emerging – today was the day of the (unofficial) number two drivers. Well, okay, Heidfeld is down as number one for BMW but you know we all think Kubica will beat him this year. And everyone (except me) backs Kovalainen to beat Fisichella, whoever is supposed to be number one at Renault. Never forget that Flavio knows how to light a bomb under his drivers…

And, speaking of lighting bombs, it looks as though Berger’s patent explosive has done wonders for Speed as well – over a second quicker than Liuzzi. Well done, Scott. Just keep it up all season and I won’t have to resort to statistics to prove you’re quicker than your Italian buddy.

Everything else is pretty much as expected except that Super Aguri have almost guaranteed themselves a court case by grabbing the midfield – 11th and 13th (Davidson quicker than Sato, please note). They also beat the Hondas so run the risk of the factory team asking for their cars back. At least Toro Rosso had the sense not go faster than the boss’ cars.

Now we all wait to see what will happen in qualifying. There will be some shuffling around, no doubt, but I think we’ve seen the basic order today – for the first ten slots anyway. To me, it seems a good sign that the first day of the 2007 season has been the day of the underdogs – we should be in for some furiously-fought races if this carries on.

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