Nico Rosberg has reflected that Williams is 'in a better position than we thought' heading into the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign, after pacing both free practice sessions on the opening day of running at Albert Park for the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
Indeed, not only did the young German show his rivals the way throughout the day – around a circuit where this time last year he produced a superb drive to claim his maiden rostrum finish in the top flight, with third place behind McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and BMW-Sauber ace Nick Heidfeld – but in the morning session team-mate Kazuki Nakajima completed the Grove-based concern's joy with the second-best time, barely five hundredths of a second adrift.
Though the Japanese ace ultimately slipped back to seventh position at the close of play – half a second away from the sister FW31 – Rosberg's sustained pace seemed to back up the 23-year-old's pre-season assertion, in company with team co-founder Sir Frank Williams, that this could be the former multiple world championship-winning outfit's best chance in years to leapfrog back up the grid and reclaim its old form [see separate story – click here
]. Now he just needs to maintain that performance throughout the Melbourne weekend.
“In both sessions, sector two was working particularly well,” the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg affirmed. “There are only two 'real' corners in the sector, but it's really interesting and it feels good in the car.
“The FW31 is well-balanced all -round the track, but seems even moreso there than in any other places. After a winter of testing, it's good to get out on a new, fresh track – and we seem to be in a better position than we thought.”
“Sector two is my favourite here at Albert Park,” echoed Nakajima. “It includes a complete variety of corners, from the medium-speed turn six to the slow-speed corners like nine, while eleven and twelve are the quickest. It makes it hard to establish a rhythm, but sector two certainly keeps your attention!”