Kobayashi wrecks his Sauber

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.

Fernando Alonso spins Kamui Kobayashi

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 Daniel Ricciardo 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:

  Driver   Team Time Laps
1. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Renault RB7 1:46.603 19
2. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 0.660 20
3. Rubens Barrichello BRZ Williams Cosworth FW33 + 0.774 23
4. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C30 + 0.819 22
5. Felipe Massa BRZ Ferrari F150° Italia + 0.959 13
6. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes GP W02 + 1.155 23
7. Fernando Alonso ESP Ferrari F150° Italia + 1.558 16
8. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 1.946 21
9. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 1.995 19
10. Jaime Alguersuari ESP Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.075 22
11. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM04 + 2.127 18
12. Sébastien Buemi SUI Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 + 2.175 18
13. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Renault RB7 + 2.191 21
14. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Cosworth FW33 + 2.206 17
15. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 + 2.238 23
16. Nick Heidfeld DEU Renault R31 + 2.338 20
17. Vitaly Petrov RUS Renault R31 + 3.000 15
18. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C30 + 3.530 17
19. Jarno Trulli ITA Lotus Renault T128 + 3.619 14
20. Karun Chandhok IND Lotus Renault T128 + 4.516 17
21. Timo Glock DEU Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 5.867 17
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 6.540 20
23. Jérôme d’Ambrosio BEL Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02 + 6.866 26
24. Daniel Ricciardo AUS HRT F1 Cosworth F111 + 7.731 24

[Image via Formula1.com, Sutton Images]

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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.