Sebastian Vettel has set the early pace by topping the timesheets at the end of the opening practice session for this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
The German clocked his Red Bull around the new Silverstone layout some three-tenths quicker than Lewis Hamilton, with Robert Kubica and Mark Webber fractionally behind in third and fourth respectively.
Most of the drivers’ time was spent trying to get a firm understanding of the heavily revamped circuit layout in addition to honing the set-ups of their cars. A bump on the new Abbey right-hander seemed to cause headaches for some, while others found the new circuit loop to be particularly slippery.
The Abbey bump created a challenge for many drivers, who experimented with different set-up settings, racing lines and gearshift changes to try and bring about more stability to their nervous cars as they entered the fast right-hand bend. Out of the field, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Paul di Resta, Timo Glock and Karun Chandhok experienced the most difficulty.
The Village corner’s lack of grip also caught out a few challengers, with Michael Schumacher earning the ignominious honour of being the first driver to swap ends, losing the back end of his Mercedes GP under braking and spinning to the outside of the track – only to make the same error two laps later!
As the drivers try to dial themselves in to the new layout, it perhaps might be unwise to read too much into the session times, particularly if you’re a Ferrari fan, as the scarlet cars were buried in the timesheets.
Of the occasional Friday drivers, Paul di Resta was quickest in 14th place, less than a tenth shy of Fernando Alonso.
Fairuz Fauzy made his first Grand Prix appearance for Lotus since the Malaysian Grand Prix, and wound up 23rd quickest after losing an hour’s running with an engine failure.
Sakon Yamamoto – announced as the replacement for Bruno Senna this weekend in the HRT cockpit – was slowest of all in the 90-minute session.
2010 British GP Practice 1 Session Times:
[Original image via GP Update]