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Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Friday, 8 May 2009 15:37 UK

Button and Rosberg set Spain pace

SPANISH GRAND PRIX
Venue:Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona Dates: 8-10 May Coverage: Live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday's qualifying sessions and Sunday's race across BBC TV, radio and online. Find complete listings here

Nico Rosberg

Highlights - Rosberg sets second practice pace

By Chris Whyatt

Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg set the fastest laps in each practice session for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix as most teams tested out their updated cars.

Williams' Rosberg went quickest with one minute 21.588 seconds in the second session as Brawn's championship leader Button clocked 1.21.799 in the first.

Times were tight between all drivers as they ran with upgrades they hope will give long-term boosts in performance.

Yet world champion Lewis Hamilton felt his McLaren modifications did not work.

Now into the fifth Grand Prix of the season, Rosberg has topped eight of 14 practice sessions so far - but lies 11th in the championship having only amassed 3.5 points.

Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren car
We don't have the pace at the moment from what it looks like. I wish we were [hiding something for Sunday], but we are not

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton

As such, practice is rarely a real barometer of performance in qualifying or the race, but - especially now that in-season testing is banned - it is important in setting teams up for the challenges ahead.

Rosberg's session ended on a sour note as he went off the track at Turn 10 appearing to have run out of fuel - which led to yellow flags and ruined other drivers' hopes of clocking a faster lap.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld came third and fourth fastest in the first session, which could give the German team a confidence boost - if nothing else - after their disaster in Bahrain where their drivers were the last to finish the race.

BMW duly scrapped the energy storage and power-boost system (Kers) they had been struggling with, for now, though they ended up 16th (Kubica) and 17th (Heidfeld) on the timesheets in the second session.

"Today was a special Friday because we have a lot of new aerodynamic parts on the car," said Kubica, who challenged for the championship last season.

"We spent quite some time working on the set-up and tried different things. We now have to analyse the data so we can exploit the potential of the car to its maximum."

Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton remains positive about season

Most teams have made changes to their cars as the season moves into its European phase after the early 'fly-away' races in Australia, Asia and the Middle East.

All are looking to find more speed as they chase the tail of Brawn, who have made an outstanding start to the season with England's Button winning three of the four races so far.

Brawn themselves ran with a new rear bodywork and lighter chassis on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya as they seek to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

606: DEBATE
Karlito197

Red Bull - second behind Brawn in the constructors' championship after their own strong start to 2009 - suffered a few glitches in the first session with Sebastian Vettel spinning off and Mark Webber complaining of understeer.

But they appeared to have found the remedy as Webber and Vettel finished fifth and seventh on the timesheets in the second.

"Obviously everyone knows this track very well, so it's always going to be pretty tight around here," said Webber.

"P1 wasn't that great, but P2 was better for us and I got a better feeling for the car."

McLaren's world champion Lewis Hamilton was 14th and then 13th in the two sessions and admitted afterwards that he felt it would be tough to make the top ten on the grid in qualifying.

"We don't have the pace at the moment from what it looks like," he said. "I wish we were [hiding something for Sunday], but we are not.

"We are pushing but unfortunately we tried some upgrades and they are not working for me.

"But, tomorrow is another day and we hope that we can get better."

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who has had a stuttering start to the season, was 17th in the first session but improved to clock the third quickest lap in the second, which he ended with an impressive-looking series of fast laps.

Jenson Button

Highlights - Button fastest in first practice

"In the first session we were struggling a little bit as we didn't have much grip, but for the afternoon we found something which took us in a good direction and improved the lap times," said the Spaniard.

Constructors' champions Ferrari, lagging in ninth this year, held back making full use of their soft tyres in the first session - which most other teams utilised across the day to record faster times.

Ninth-fastest Felipe Massa sat in the garage for much of the first session as his Ferrari was tinkered with, only completing 15 laps, though 11th-fastest Kimi Raikkonen - who had more upgrades to his car than his Brazilian team-mate - did five more laps.

Raikkonen and Massa were 10th and 15th-fastest in the second session.



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see also
Alonso uses home pressure as motivation
08 May 09 |  Formula 1
Hamilton remains positive about season
08 May 09 |  Formula 1
Spanish GP practice photos
08 May 09 |  Formula 1
Spanish Grand Prix practice results
05 May 09 |  Results
Spanish GP practice as it happened
08 May 09 |  Formula 1
Bold Button to push for Spain win
07 May 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso offers advice to Hamilton
07 May 09 |  Formula 1
F1 teams demand budget cap talks
06 May 09 |  Formula 1


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