Fernando Alonso has kicked off his Turkish Grand Prix in positive fashion by going quickest in a rain-affected opening practice session at Istanbul, which was marked by a heavy accident for championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
Alonso’s fastest time was posted on the Pirelli intermediate tyre – which had its first wet-weather outing on a race weekend this season – and he was followed by the Mercedes GP pair of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. The Renaults of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov completed the top five places.
Until this morning’s 90 minutes of running, there hadn’t been a single wet-weather session at the Istanbul Park circuit since it debuted on the F1 calendar in 2005, and it was little surprise to see a few drivers caught out by the slippery conditions during the session.
Several yellow flags interrupted what little meaningful running could be performed, with a River running across Turn 11 – the fast right-hander leading onto the back straight – causing problems for quite a few drivers, who ran off the circuit when they ran out of adhesion.
But it was Vettel’s crash that was the session’s sole red-flag moment at the end of the first hour of running. Having just recovered from an off-track moment at Turn 11 on the previous lap, Vettel took too much kerbing at the exit of Turn 8, which caused him to spin to the inside crash barriers as his car suddenly speared left. The car collided hard with the Armco, and all four corners of Vettel’s car were damaged to give his mechanics plenty of work ahead of the afternoon’s running.
Having enjoyed an error-free session that saw him clock up good mileage on Pirelli’s intermediate tyres, Alonso was fastest by over a second by Nico Rosberg, although much of the gap to the rest of the field could be attributed to the fact that Alonso was one of the few to run on the intermediates when everyone else was using the full wet tyres.
Following the Mercedes GP and Renault pairings was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber, who finished the session sixth-fastest in typically flamboyant fashion, faster than Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, Sébastien Buemi and Nico Hülkenberg, who rounded out the top ten.
The McLarens completed little running, with Lewis Hamilton not registering a lap time in the session.
2011 Turkish Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||1:38.670||13|
|2.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.402||14|
|3.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.462||18|
|4.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 1.668||9|
|5.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 1.731||10|
|6.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 1.751||16|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 2.027||14|
|8.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.424||18|
|9.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.508||22|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.677||16|
|11.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 3.894||5|
|12.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 3.927||7|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 4.855||11|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 5.243||5|
|15.||Karun Chandhok||Lotus Renault T128||+ 5.316||6|
|16.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.117||20|
|17.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 6.284||4|
|18.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 6.513||15|
|19.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 6.567||11|
|20.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 9.791||8|
|21.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 13.006||6|
|22.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 17.121||13|
|23.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 21.996||4|
|24.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||no time||1|
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