Fernando Alonso has made his intentions of securing back-to-back wins very clear after he went fastest in this morning’s first practice session for the German Grand Prix. The winner of last fortnight’s British Grand Prix was the only driver to break into the 1m31s range during the session, which he ended some three-tenths of a second faster than the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
With the Eifel rain having lashed the circuit yesterday, conditions remained dry but overcast for this morning’s 90-minute session, with track temperatures hitting a high of 20°C (68°F) as the session progressed.
The development race continued up and down the field, with a host of teams running new development parts, while Pirelli supplied a new ‘test’ compound for this session: a slightly harder version of the ‘soft’ compound tyre that the teams will run this weekend on conjunction with the ‘medium’ compound.
Among the raft of technical updates were a new front wing at Ferrari, new exhaust configuration at Renault, and a new McLaren rear wing.
On the driver line-up front, local boy Nico Hülkenberg continued with his customer duties as Force India’s Friday practice driver, substituting for Paul di Resta, while Narain Karthikeyan – fresh from be deposed by Daniel Ricciardo for the British Grand Prix – was back in the HRT cockpit for this session only, this time in place of Vitantonio Liuzzi. Karthikeyan would end the session seven-tenths of a second quicker than the Australian rookie.
Karthikeyan’s compatriot, Karun Chandhok, found himself making his first proper F1 outing as a racing driver in over a year, as he takes over Jarno Trulli’s seat at Lotus, presumably for this weekend only. His session didn’t get off the best of starts when one of his mirrors fell off…
Another of drivers had off-track moments as they explored the limits of the Nurburgring circuit. Several drivers ran wide at Turn 1, but were able to continue without damage. Timo Glock damaged his front wing with a trip over the chicane kerbs, while Heikki Kovalainen took a trip across the Turn 5 gravel.
Michael Schumacher also took a trip through the Dunlop Hairpin kitty litter, impressively waving at the crowds as he dragged his Mercedes GP back onto the track.
By far the biggest moment came for Sébastien Buemi, who had a wild high-speed spin at the Ford Chicane, courtesy of dropping his Toro Rosso’s right rear wheel on the grass.
Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Lewis Hamilton was one of the session’s early pace-setters, until he was knocked off the top of the timesheets with just an hour left when Sebastian Vettel lapped quickest.
With just under half an hour to go, Fernando Alonso moved to the top of the timesheets, while Webber moved into the second-fastest time.
Felipe Massa made it a solid session for Ferrari with the fourth-fastest time, while Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button completed the top-six for McLaren.
The rest of the Mercedes-powered entries rounded out the top-ten places, with seventh-fastest Nico Rosberg and tenth-fastest Michael Schumacher sandwiching the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Nico Hülkenberg.
2011 German Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||1:31.894||30|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.323||24|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.374||27|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.787||23|
|5.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.102||18|
|6.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.734||22|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.893||33|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.938||27|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.964||26|
|10.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.969||31|
|11.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 2.200||22|
|12.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.221||23|
|13.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.447||20|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 3.495||24|
|15.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 3.550||22|
|16.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 4.477||22|
|17.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.498||29|
|18.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 4.948||29|
|19.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 4.988||27|
|20.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.610||22|
|21.||Karun Chandhok||Lotus Renault T128||+ 6.871||19|
|22.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 7.385||24|
|23.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 8.215||23|
|24.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 8.534||22|