Lewis Hamilton has started his Spanish Grand Prix campaign on the right foot by Lewis Hamilton setting the pace in the opening practice session in this morning’s running at the Circuit de Catalunya.

It was a McLaren quinella, with Jenson Button ending up second-quickest at the end of the 90-minute session, about half a second adrift of his team-mate.

A dry but cool morning greeted the 24 drivers as the pit lane opened at 10am local time, with the circuit welcoming a selection of significant car upgrades throughout the field.

Red Bull were the early pacesetters in the session, and it seemed to many that the Austrian team might monopolise the timesheets, with an early benchmark in the 1m22s range. However, first Michael Schumacher, then Button, and then Hamilton lowered the times.

Nico Rosberg rounded out the top-six – marking just the fourth time this season he has been out-paced by his multi-championship-winning team-mate. He was followed by Robert Kubica, Fernando Alonso, Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi, whose Sauber made a pleasant return to the top-ten in the timesheets.

Paul di Resta – standing in a Force India in place of Adrian Sutil for this session – out-paced Vitantonio Liuzzi to the tune of two places on the timing screens, finishing 13th overall.

Christian Klien Many eyes were on Christian Klien (pictured right), making his first outing for the HRT team as their Friday test driver and his first appearance on in a practice since the 2007 British GP for Honda. He finished up 22nd overall, half a second quicker than Bruno Senna.

Heikki Kovalainen landed up fastest of the rookie team runners, driving the substantially revised Lotus T127 to 18th place on the timesheets. He finished just under two seconds adrift of the next quickest ‘established team’ runner, and one second quicker than his team-mate Jarno Trulli. This was despite the Finn having to get his throttle replaced during the session, courtesy of a sensor failure.

There was little to distinguish those teams who split their revisions between their drivers: Williams and Virgin Racing. Rubens Barrichello put the revised Williams FW32 through its paces, and lapped 16th-quickest despite an oil leak, but he was only 0.1s quicker than team-mate Nico Hülkenberg in the unmodified sister car.

The same applied to Timo Glock, who took a shark-fin equipped VR01 on-track and lapped 0.3s quicker than Lucas di Grassi in the original-spec VR01.

Bottom of the timesheets and without a times lap was Pedro de la Rosa, who was sidelined after three installation laps with a gearbox problem.

2010 Spanish GP Practice 1 Session Times:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes 1:21.134 21
2. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes + 0.538 14
3. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP + 0.582 12
4. Mark Webber AU Red Bull Renault + 0.877 27
5. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault + 0.892 22
6. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP + 0.936 19
7. Robert Kubica POL Renault + 1.068 22
8. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari + 1.124 19
9. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault + 1.263 23
10. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari + 1.358 26
11. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.454 24
12. Felipe Massa BRA Ferrari + 1.841 22
13. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes + 1.896 21
14. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1.976 31
15. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA Force India Mercedes + 2.150 19
16. Rubens Barrichello BRA Williams Cosworth + 2.178 22
17. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Williams Cosworth + 2.337 20
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth + 4.195 17
19. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Cosworth + 5.110 20
20. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth + 5.206 23
21. Lucas di Grassi BRA Virgin Racing Cosworth + 5.560 24
22. Christian Klien AUT HRT Cosworth + 6.116 26
23. Bruno Senna BRA HRT Cosworth + 6.618 27
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP Sauber Ferrari no time 3

[Original images via AUTOSPORT and GP Update]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.