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Heidfeld Surprised by Williams' Pace

German driver Nick Heidfeld was pleased with the start of his first Grand Prix with the Williams-BMW team after finishing as third quickest in practice in Melbourne.

German driver Nick Heidfeld was pleased with the start of his first Grand Prix with the Williams-BMW team after finishing as third quickest in practice in Melbourne.

Williams bosses said last month they expected to be adrift of rivals in the first races of the season after finding problems with the aerodynamics of the new FW27 car.

But Heidfeld had an encouraging start and finished close to the top of the times.

"It's been a better first day than I had expected after the winter testing," admitted Heidfeld. "I only had a small electronic issue this morning that slightly delayed my programme and prevented me from completing all the laps that we had planned.

"In the afternoon everything went according to plan and it was a nice finish to this first day."

Australian teammate Mark Webber was only 15th quickest in the second Williams. Webber is making his first appearance for Williams at his home race and has high hopes of a higher finish than his career best of fifth with Minardi on his 2002 debut.

"We've got the first free practice sessions out of the way, which is always a good thing to do at the start of the season and we have now completed our tyre comparison," explained Webber. "In the second session we had a small problem with the fuel system of the car and we lost some time there but the mechanics got it fixed pretty quickly.

"We spent our time mainly testing tyres and also saving the engine for the race and the next race weekend. We're on the way and so far, so good."

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