Mark Webber has kicked off his defence of the British Grand Prix in positive fashion by going quickest in Friday’s first practice session – a rain-affected one at that – for the British Grand Prix.
The grid’s most-experienced wet-weather drivers, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, rounded out the top-three positions on the timesheets after an action-packed opening session that saw Kamui Kobayashi comprehensively destroy his Sauber with a heavy smash exiting the final corner.
The conditions meant that teams and drivers obtained little insight as to any changes in the pecking order with this being the first to completely ban the use of off-throttle blown diffusers, but with Webber on top of the timesheets, it could still be argued that Red Bull is the team to beat this weekend.
The conditions saw several drivers slither off the slippery circuit, with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Sergio Pérez suffering spins, while Sébastien Buemi took a trip through the kitty litter when he was heading for the pit lane.
Kobayashi’s accident was by far the biggest, caused by the Japanese driver running over the final corner’s exit kerbs. Attempts to correct the slide with a healthy application of throttle did little to help matters, and the Sauber driver was spat sideways towards the barriers, coming close to rolling his car before he impacted with the tyres. It is not yet known if the team will be able to repair his car ahead of this afternoon’s second practice session.
His team-mate Pérez, meanwhile, had a positive session with the fourth-fastest time of the session, while Felipe Massa – not known for his prowess on a damp track – was a surprising fifth-quickest.
It seemed that several teams opted to split their developmental running between their drivers, with varying success. Williams opted to test different diffuser configurations for Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado, which saw the Brazilian third-fastest and the Venezuelan rookie 14th. McLaren tried different-spec rear wings for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, with the pair finishing up eighth- and fifteenth-fastest respectively. It looks as though a similar ploy was adopted by Red Bull, with Sebastian Vettel well in the midfield in 13th.
HRT debutant Daniel Ricciardo had his first outing in the F111 challenger, and not surprisingly wound up slowest of all in the session as he dialled himself in.
2011 British Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:46.603||19|
|2.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 0.660||20|
|3.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 0.774||23|
|4.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 0.819||22|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 0.959||13|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.155||23|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.558||16|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 1.946||21|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 1.995||19|
|10.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.075||22|
|11.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.127||18|
|12.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 2.175||18|
|13.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 2.191||21|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.206||17|
|15.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 2.238||23|
|16.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 2.338||20|
|17.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 3.000||15|
|18.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 3.530||17|
|19.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 3.619||14|
|20.||Karun Chandhok||Lotus Renault T128||+ 4.516||17|
|21.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 5.867||17|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.540||20|
|23.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 6.866||26|
|24.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 7.731||24|