Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were full of praise for the speed and reliability demonstrated by Red Bull Racing's RB5 in practice for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix – as both drivers wound up comfortably inside the top five at the close of Friday proceedings.
The Milton Keynes-based squad arrived in Sepang for the second round on the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship calendar with no points on the board, after Webber's chances were dashed by accident damage sustained in the first corner mêlée in front of his home fans in Melbourne last weekend, and Vettel threw away second place just three laps from home when he and BMW-Sauber star Robert Kubica came together as they duelled over the runner-up laurels.
That has left the energy drinks-backed outfit even more determined to make amends in the Far East this weekend, and having lapped respectively eighth (Webber) and ninth in the morning running and then third (Vettel) and fifth later on, the initial signs are looking good.
“The heat in Malaysia is always a surprise, even if you're here for a couple of days before you jump in the car,” admitted Vettel, who will have to take a ten-place grid penalty in qualifying after controversially having been deemed the guilty party in the Albert Park coming-together. “It's very hot with the suit and everything and, no matter how much you prepare, the first outing is always a bad surprise – but you quickly adapt.
“Every time you come into the box it's like you've been in the shower. Fortunately I've got a bag with dry ice in it, which I put next to my balls, so at least they stay nice and cool! Today went well, with smooth running. We ran through our programme, did a lot of laps and got a lot of information about our tyres. There were no major problems with either car, so it was a good day.”
“Today was a lot better for us in terms of reliability than Friday in Melbourne,” agreed Webber, less than a tenth of a second behind his young team-mate on the final timesheets, “so it was a big step forward. Both cars ran well and obviously it's a big challenge for the cars around here with the heat, so that's good.
“We got all of our programme completed in plenty of time, and performance wise we're not too bad here. We have a bit of work to do tonight, but in general it was a pretty good day for the team and for me.”