Lewis Hamilton has gone quickest in today’s first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The McLaren driver finished half a second clear of defending champion Sebastian Vettel at the end of the 90-minute session.
The session was expected to provide teams with their only dry-weather running of the day and – with afternoon showers predicted to lash the Sepang circuit this afternoon in time for the second practice session, the teams attempted to complete as much mileage as possible.
Behind the leading pair, the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were third- and fourth-quickest, themselves separated by barely 0.01 seconds based on their fastest laps of the session.
With the Malaysian circuit designed to separate the aerodynamically efficient cars from their weaker counterparts, it was little surprise to see the leading quartet of McLarens, Mercedes’, Red Bulls and Lotus F1 challengers at the sharp end of the timesheets – that being said, fuel loads are the great unknown in this session, and the complete picture is rarely apparent after one practice session.
Of the leading four teams, Jenson Button was the only driver who failed to slip into the top-eight on the timing screens. The Englishman finished ninth-fastest this session, narrowly beaten by Force India driver Paul di Resta – his team-mate Nico Hülkenberg sandwiched the McLaren driver by going tenth-fastest.
Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas had his first ever F1 outing during a Grand Prix weekend, with the Finnish driver getting behind the wheel of Bruno Senna’s regular mount in this session. Bottas will complete at least thirteen more of these practice outings over the course of the season – all in Senna’s car, hardly surprising given the comparative amounts of backing that he and team-mate Pastor Maldonado bring to the Grove team.
Bottas performed well on his first outing, and even finished ahead of Maldonado on the timesheets, as well as going quicker than more-experienced runners like Felipe Massa, Kamui Kobayashi, and Fernando Alonso.
Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov managed to get their Caterhams ahead of a couple of better-fancied runners in this session, with the pair ending up just over two seconds off Hamilton’s session-leading pace.
Not surprisingly, the Marussia and HRTs brought up the rear, although the latter team’s cars were just fractionally off the theoretical 107% pace this time around. Narain Karthikeyan again lost valuable track time when his car ground to a halt during the session with an hydraulics problem.
2012 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:38.021||19|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:38.535||+ 0.514||21|
|3.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:38.813||+ 0.792||21|
|4.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:38.826||+ 0.805||19|
|5.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:38.919||+ 0.898||17|
|6.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:39.092||+ 1.071||20|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:39.128||+ 1.107||22|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:39.298||+ 1.277||23|
|9.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:39.323||+ 1.302||15|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:39.440||+ 1.419||19|
|11.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW34||1:39.724||+ 1.703||23|
|12.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:39.783||+ 1.762||23|
|13.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:39.896||+ 1.875||16|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:39.910||+ 1.889||21|
|15.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:39.980||+ 1.959||23|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:40.099||+ 2.078||23|
|17.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:40.247||+ 2.226||19|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:40.469||+ 2.448||23|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:40.857||+ 2.836||25|
|20.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:41.085||+ 3.064||23|
|21.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:43.170||+ 5.149||18|
|22.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:44.580||+ 6.559||14|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:45.360||+ 7.339||8|
|24.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:45.528||+ 7.507||18|
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