Hamilton stayed cool and put his McLaren on top in the opening practice session for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix

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.

Valtteri Bottas had his maiden F1 outing during a Grand Prix weekendWilliams 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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:38.021   19
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:38.535 + 0.514 21
3. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:38.813 + 0.792 21
4. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:38.826 + 0.805 19
5. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:38.919 + 0.898 17
6. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.092 + 1.071 20
7. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:39.128 + 1.107 22
8. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.298 + 1.277 23
9. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:39.323 + 1.302 15
10. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.440 + 1.419 19
11. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:39.724 + 1.703 23
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:39.783 + 1.762 23
13. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:39.896 + 1.875 16
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:39.910 + 1.889 21
15. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:39.980 + 1.959 23
16. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:40.099 + 2.078 23
17. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:40.247 + 2.226 19
18. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:40.469 + 2.448 23
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:40.857 + 2.836 25
20. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.085 + 3.064 23
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:43.170 + 5.149 18
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:44.580 + 6.559 14
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:45.360 + 7.339 8
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:45.528 + 7.507 18

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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.