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That's all from me folks. Enjoyed your company. See you here at the slightly later time of 0630 BST tomorrow for another practice session then the real business of qualifying, yeah? Nice. Cheers.
So Raikkonen clocked the fastest lap of the day in the second session and will probably not dwell too hard on his last lap of the first session, when smoke poured out of his car. But we don't have to forget - and it's well worth watching the Frankie Dettori-esque dismount from his fog-filled Ferrari.
Raikkonen's eventful first practice
Wow. Far more earth-shaking that what happened in practice is fresh news emerging from the McLaren camp regarding the Lewis Hamilton Australian GP disqualification saga: sporting director Dave Ryan has been suspended after 34 years with the team. "His role in the events of last Sunday, particularly his dealings with the FIA stewards, has caused serious repercussions for the team, for which we apologise," said McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh. Thoughts?
Hamilton row claims team veteran
Anonymous on the 81111 texts:
"This season could be the most exciting ever. With up-and-coming drivers and new technology, it is a must-watch spectacle!"
Hmmmm. Ferrari will be pleased with that. But, perhaps even more telling, Red Bull finished third (Vettel) and fifth (Webber). They are showing some real promise, huh? Rosberg splits them in fourth with Williams team-mate Nakajima eighth. Button and Barrichello were sixth and seventh respectively but the Brawn duo will surely bare their teeth in qualifying tomorrow.
Chequered flag... Raikkonen, who is told to turn his problematic Kers off on his last lap, records the quickest time with 1:35.707. Team-mate Massa completes the Ferrari one-two. Just like last year, the Italian team have a poor time in Australia before pulling up the socks of their home country-shaped boots in Malaysia.
Not long now. A couple of wheel farings have flown off, for some reason. Nakajima's was one. NB - they look like hubcaps, basically. All these practice lap times are very close. Quality.
Raikkonen fastest now. Fairly breathless stuff as the cars pelt round the Sepang track. The animals go two-by-two... Ferraris lead, Red Bulls in behind, with the Brawns taking up fifth and sixth.
Omer on the 81111 texts:
"I've always been a big fan of F1 but drifted from it after Mika Hakkinen retired, because it was obvious Michael Schumacher was going to dominate for a long time. How many contenders do you think there are for the championship? And do you think its likely a dominance like that will ever be seen again?"
Are we in rural Norfolk? A tractor has trundled on to the edge of the circuit to lift Giancarlo Fisichella's battered Force India off the gravel after he lost control of his car coming off Turn Nine into 10 and ran aground. Massa quickest with 1:35.832. No, it's Raikkonen now... promising stuff for Ferrari.
Talking of McLaren's stuttering world champion, you can hear him on the team radio during the Australian Grand Prix as he discusses whether or not he is allowed to overtake Toyota's Jarno Trulli. This is part of the evidence that led to his disqualification by the FIA. Explore the link below.
Hamilton's team radio during Australian GP
Sebastian Vettel has the fastest lap at present. The noise of these engines just makes you want to drive an F1 car. So powerful. Massa has just whipped the lead off Red Bull's young German... Pride of Stevenage Lewis Hamilton is back in 18th.
A Red Bull pit mechanic shows how not to burn your head. This is not Sarah H
Ah, here she is. It's
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
again (NOT pictured here on the right): "Apologies for the delay, I'm just recovering after spending an hour dashing around under the relentless sun in Sepang. I've drunk two bottles of water today and have two more on the go. I'm guessing the weather is going to be key to my performance this weekend as well as the cars' on the track. Right now, it is 32C and a tyre blistering 41C on the track. If I look to my left, there are promising patches of blue sky but to my right, over towards the sparsely populated main stand, it is much gloomier. Hiding from the heat is the number one priority here, so much so that fashion-sense has to go out of the window. Here you can see a Red Bull mechanic modelling the sun hat a la mode in Malaysia."
Kubica is still in the BMW garage, as they wait to see if the rain becomes more widespread across the track. The all-conquering Brawn GP would surely like to practise in the wet, something they didn't manage once in pre-season testing. Feel like Michael Fish.
Nakajima quickest now. Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP - aka the "diffuser three" - continue to impress. The appeal heard by the FIA on 14 April against the legality of the design of their diffusers, which is a crucial part on the back of a F1 car in terms of gaining critical downforce, really could define the course of the season.
An hour left of this second session of the day. Button, Nakajima and Glock the top three right now. Bit of confusion in the Toyota garage there as Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli came in at the same time only to stumble over who got seen to first, reports
BBC Sport's Lee McKenzie
. Sounds like a case of "after you, sir". BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica - who is always quick to point out any minor problems to his engineers and mechanics, tells them: "We are sliding on the track, we are too low." Raikkonen quickest now...
Button and his button tattoo screech through with the fastest lap. Hamilton down in 12th. Not hugely significant though. Most of the track is still dry.
A column of rain hovers into view over the south-east Asian treetops and showers part of the Sepang circuit: we're likely to get wet and dry patches on the track. Nakajima is fastest now by almost one tenth of a second...
Toyota's Jarno Trulli has the quickest lap so far: 1:37.185. No, it's Adrian Sutil now... making up time on sector three, the most technical part of the Sepang circuit. Now it's Webber - changing all the time, as you can see. Rain actually held off but clouds are darkening... most cars running slicks tyres right now.
Barnaby on the 81111 texts:
"Been awake all night finishing coursework for tomorrow... and I've just finished! This practice is my reward. Do you think Kimi's Kers failure is a sign of things to come in the hotter GPs?"
Noble Desmond Poon in Shanghai on the 81111 texts:
"Just before 1400 here in China ahead of a richly-anticipated long weekend. Looking forward to enjoying the carnage that may be the Malaysian GP if there's a deluge..... What are the odds on less than 10 finishers?"
The temperature has dropped near Kuala Lumpur and a raindrop holding more liquid than a pregnant water bomb has just landed plumb on the head of
BBC Sport's Lee McKenzie
. You'd have to imagine that most teams will be keen to do some practice in the wet. "C'mon Nelson, we need a better lap than that," a Renault race engineer sternly instructs Piquet Jr over his radio. Pressure.
BBC Sport pundit Anthony Davidson
laughs at the perils that await drivers at Sepang: "Sweat pours from your brow and into your eyes, you have to close them at times as you're going round. We have a hard time of it down there." Vettel is fastest so far.
Vroom... vroom... vroom. Put your earplugs in. The second practice session in hot/ sticky/ humid Malaysia is under way.
Dave in Southampton on the 81111 text
asks: "What chance is there of rain on raceday?" Wakey wakey David lad, this is Malaysia! There's always a chance of rain. Looking specifically at the forecast for Sunday, heavy showers are predicted with a maximum temperature of 30 degrees celsius. But who knows. Hope that helps mate. Clock ticking towards second session now...
Anonymous on 81111 text:
"Hugely interesting, yes. But still not half six in the morning in the UK, so toast and Tropicana takes priority."
Just to make clear the situation McLaren found themselves in yesterday. The team and its world champion Lewis Hamilton were stripped of their podium finish and all points at the Australian Grand Prix. A post-race hearing had initially promoted Hamilton from fourth to third after Toyota's Jarno Trulli was penalised for passing the Briton while the safety car was out - but F1's world governing body, the FIA, has now taken action against them "for providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards". Massively controversial. Plus ca change...
Hamilton loses Aussie GP points
That's hugely interesting, no?
0614: BREAKING NEWS FROM SEPANG:
McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan - who accompanied Lewis Hamilton to the fateful stewards' meeting in Australia - has been seen leaving the track with packed bags. Subsequently there is speculation that he has left the team after more than 30 years' service. Communications director Matt Bishop told BBC Sport the team were "not confirming anything at the moment" but added that McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh would hold a news conference later on Friday.
Less than one hour until the second practice session gets under way. Get your texts coming into
Can Rosberg go quickest for the fifth successive session?
Everyone's hiding from the heat, according to
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
(who's bravely bestriding the Sepang circuit with sweat running down her back). Actually, not everyone. She's just spotted Kimi "in brown check board shorts, looking pretty relaxed" together with some Ferrari engineers, who look super-chilled. And, for the first time this season, the media have spotted F1 commercial powerbroker supreme Bernie Ecclestone. He's chatting away to Red Bull boss Christian Horner. Holty also reports that she is waiting until after the second practice session to get some lunch, when the £15 buffet goes down to £5. "I'm not paying that now - it's just extortionate."
I don't need to tell you that Kimi Raikkonen won here in Malaysia last year. I know that you knew that, and I'm sure the same applies vice versa. But shall we reminisce a bit deeper? Sepang - which is a full 35 miles from Kuala Lumpur, by the way - has witnessed a number of classic, incident-packed races in the recent past. Explore the link below to watch and comment on them.
Malaysian Grands Prix - classic races
She'd put Sherlock Holmes to shame, that
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt.
Here she is, from Malaysia, on Kimigate: "Ferrari are remaining tight-lipped about the exact cause of Raikkonen's overheating car. The team spokesman told me: "It was not the fire extinguisher and it was not a fire." So was it overheating then - perhaps there was a problem with the electric Kers battery, untested in extremely hot and humid conditions? "We do not know and we don't want to guess." One thing Ferrari would say is that the mechanics are working furiously on Raikkonen's car to get it ready for the second session. The team batted away suggestions that there is a danger he may not be able to do any further running on Friday, saying: "Is there a chance? There is a chance the world might end tomorrow... so."
Talking about Button's tattoo,
Chris in Portsmouth
suggests: "How about a button in an F1 tyre with flames around it? Best I can do at 4am!"
Some context on the lap times posted so far: Felipe Massa's pole from 2008 was 1:35.748. Also, talking of Ferrari, they have quite clearly been making full use of Kers on the long straights. Brawn again look impressive. Do they (again) have something in hand?
Jokes coming in thick and fast about Kimi's unfortunate incident but in all seriousness - Button's button tattoo aside - that was the biggest talking point to emerge from the first session. Speculation is rife that it
a problem with Kers - namely overheating - but we don't know for sure yet. As I type (and my stomach desperately rumbles in bid to get itself some food), our team in Kuala Lumpur are doing their very best to find out.
Sam in Hitchin on 81111 text:
"Motor racing fire extinguishers produce a laxative effect when inhaled, according to marshals I know."
Peter in London:
"Did Kimi have a curry the night before??"
Jeff from Reading on 81111 text:
"Kimi = Dry Ice Man??!"
So, an interesting end to that first session. Next session kicks off at 0700 BST, which is when the live video stream will also reappear. But I'll be here in the interim to play host to all your F1 chat as we collectively stock up on fuel-giving snacks. And there's plenty to talk about, huh. Not least, how creative can Jenson Button have been with his new tattoo of a button? Any suggestions?
Nico Rosberg is the King of Practice so far. Fastest in both sessions in Melbourne, he's done it again now with a time of 1:36.260. His team-mate Kazuki Nakajima is second with Button, Barrichello, Massa and Raikkonen behind the Williams duo.
Bit of drama as it appears the fire extinguisher has gone off in Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. He stops just short of the garage and jumps out to escape the freezing fog. It's not an engine problem; could it be Kers? "Kimi's not an emotional guy, but he'll be extremely upset," say
BBC Sport's Ted Kravitz
just metres away from the Finn. Nightmare for Renault duo Nelson Piquet Jr and Fernando Alonso, who have both gone into the gravel.
We've never seen Kers run in a downpour, ruminate BBC commentary boys Croft and Davidson as their bad puns - "it could be electric" and even "shocking" - rain in. Sorry. We don't know what to expect basically. Literally, erm, tens of fans at the track right now. But, following that incredible opener in Australia, apparently ticket sales have rocketed for the Malaysia race itself.
0418: BREAKING NEWS (BUT ONLY A RUMOUR AT PRESENT): JENSON BUTTON HAS A NEW TATTOO... OF A... BUTTON.
Track-side in Malaysia,
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
has been looking back through the annals of time: "A lot of drivers say Sepang is one of their favourite circuits. First of all, they love the challenge of the fast and flowing track and for many of the current crop Malaysia is also the scene of fond memories. As the race comes so early in the season, it's provided a fair few landmark occasions. Kimi Raikkonen scored his first GP win here in 2003 when he was driving for McLaren. Fernando Alonso (2003) and Jenson Button (2004) both climbed onto the podium for the first time in Malaysia while Felipe Massa (2002) and Heikki Kovalainen (2007) both claimed their first points here. I shall now remove my stats hat except to say... the lap record here is 1:34.223, set by Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams in 2004."
Looks like all drivers are on the harder tyres at the moment. Still no rain. Twenty minutes of this session left, before a break of two-and-a-half hours before the next one. Just over two seconds between all 20 drivers right now... Heikki Kovalainen is last.
With 1:36.430, Button is duly leading the session. Behind him are Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel. Remember, Red Bull driver Vettel will carry a 10-place grid penalty for Melbourne misdemeanors when the race starts on Sunday.
Erm, can you do a decent rain dance Richard? Because, according to Nico Rosberg and BMW-Sauber boss Mario Theissen, only regular sheets of precipitation can stop the speedy Brawn GP duo of Button and Barrichello at Sepang - in whatever order. Even Red Bull driver Mark Webber admits they are on "another level".
Brawn 'should dominate Malaysia'
Richard from Falkirk on 81111 text:
"How do you think Red Bull will do this weekend? I think they have a good chance for the win, if not at least a podium."
Williams's Nico Rosberg leads now with driver's championship leader Jenson Button (Brawn GP, as if you didn't know) right behind him. But remember, this is only practice. Essentially it means nothing. But the times are quick, and Anthony Davidson on
is talking about the Sepang lap record potentially being broken over the course of this weekend.
"The Sepang International Circuit has long straights and fast corners so getting the car's balance right here can be quite tricky. The track will suit those drivers running with Kers because there is time for the system - which gives drivers an extra boost of power at the push of a button - to kick in before they have to brake again. It will also be interesting to see if many drivers use the adjustable front-wing flap, which has been introduced this season, to help balance the car too. It may be a little early to make predictions but I think the Toyotas will be strong here."
BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie
All drivers have been out but the cars being driven a little nervously as the track starts to 'rubber in'. Grip will increase significantly the more laps are completed and rubber builds up on the track, so times are going to get much quicker.
"Can you just give Buemi a mention because while all the chaos was going on around him he kept his head and points on his debut. Think Toro Rosso deserve a slap on the back - well done for their race."
Charles in Tiverton
Not getting sleepy are you? Ferrari's Kimi Raikonnen is fastest so far with one minute 39.707 seconds.
BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica reckons Kers (kinetic energy recovery system) - the little button which gives drivers a boost of acceleration - will have more of an impact at Sepang than in Albert Park. We'll see. Oh, hello. Track-side in Malaysia, here's
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt:
"Selamat Pagi from Sepang. The day has started with quite an epic 45-minute journey, weaving through Malaysia's maverick motorists and through the palm-tree lined roads up to the circuit. I arrived about an hour ago; at the same time as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who was driving himself to the track in a gold Maserati. Once a driver, always a driver. The first hum of an engine tuning up means first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix is just around the corner. Weather fans will want to know that it's fairly cool for steamy Sepang, just 28C."
Quick appeal to you all, please get involved in our coverage. Very simply, text me (and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra) on
. Seems we may be having some intermittent problems with the live video at the moment: our boffins are on it.
The drivers have already said they expect the weather to have an impact in Kuala Lumpur, where forecasters are rumoured to have an easy job. "Hot and humid, with a strong chance of rain" is their familiar refrain. And that's the state of play right now.
But there's no time to dwell on that now! The first practice session at Malaysia's Sepang circuit is under way. If UK users refresh this page live video will appear at the top. No rain at the minute in Kuala Lumpur...
Seven days ago we were frantically pondering what the season would hold - and its first chapter didn't let us down. Brawn GP's stunning Australian GP one-two saw F1 dominate the back pages like it hasn't done for a long time and capture the public's imagination well beyond the sport's loyal army of petrolheads. And, what with Lewis Hamilton and McLaren being stripped of their podium finish and all points yesterday and Jarno Trulli and Toyota reinstated to third, the dust hasn't truly settled on events in Melbourne.
If a week's a long time in football, then in Formula 1 it's the equivalent of an Ice Age. Morning all. Welcome to Part II of an already rollercoaster 2009 season in what, I'd humbly venture, is swift regaining its status as the most glamorous sport in the world.