Australian Grand Prix 2011: Jenson Button fastest in practice as McLarens hit the front ahead of Red Bull

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton set the fastest times in Friday’s practice for the Australian Grand Prix, as the team profited from some late changes to the car’s set-up following a frustrating winter.

Speed racer: Jenson Button has finallly found some drive from the McLaren Photo: REUTERSBy Telegraph staff and agencies 7:58AM GMT 25 Mar 2011
Button posted the fastest lap of 1 minute, 28.854 seconds in the second practice session, 0.132 seconds ahead of Hamilton as the McLaren cars performed strongly on the softer ‘option’ tires after being off the pace on the hard tires in the morning session.

“Getting used to the new tires is giving me the lap time,” said Button during the session, according to McLaren’s Twitter account.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was third quickest in both sessions. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who led after the first practice session, were fourth and fifth respectively.

Sixth-placed Michael Schumacher of Mercedes led for much of the second session before the McLaren drivers traded the quickest times in the latter stages.

Button and Hamilton had talked down McLaren’s chances before arriving in Australia, following an offseason in which the team struggled to integrate a complex new exhaust system and get the best out of the new Pirelli tires. A last-minute decision to revert to a simpler exhaust and floor of the car clearly paid off.

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