Nico Rosberg took Mercedes GP to the top of the opening practice session timesheets for this weekend’s European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit.
Rosberg hauled himself of the championship-leading McLaren pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with an ‘F-duct’ assisted hot-lap with 15 minutes to go in the session.
Robert Kubica wound up in fourth place on the timing screens, half a second off the pace. Next up in the order was Felipe Massa, who emerged fractionally quicker than a gaggle of cars that comprised Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello.
Many teams arrived at the Valencia circuit with a host of new upgrades to make them more competitive – Ferrari and Renault are running lowered exhausts; Red Bull and Williams are re-trialling their ‘F-ducts’, for example.
The drivers reported some issues with tyre graining and many used parts of the session to explore the limit of adhesion with regular trips into the circuit run-off areas. Fortunately, no driver succeeded in binning their cars into the Armco.
One brief red flag period did occur, however, when Bruno Senna’s left-hand mirror departed company from his HRT, grazing the Brazilian’s helmet and landing on the road, to be collected by Sébastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso. The session was momentarily suspended to allow the Turn 12 section of the circuit to be cleaned for debris.
The HRT team’s first session on its second ‘home’ race was not a happy one, with both Senna and test driver Christian Klien – who is replacing Karun Chandhok this morning – sidelined late in the session with driveshaft and gearbox problems, respectively.
2010 European GP Practice 1 Session Times:
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]