Romain Grosjean continued his fantastic form by topping FP1 for the first time in his career; beating Lewis Hamilton and four time world champion Sebastian Vettel as the on-track activities for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix got underway.
The Frenchman put in a 1:44.241, two-tenths of a second faster than Hamilton. However Hamilton, who has excelled at Yas Marina in the past (being on pole in 2009 and 2012), went unbeaten in the final sector of the five-kilometre circuit.
Pastor Maldonado made a surprise visit to the top ten, placing his Williams ninth-quickest amid speculation he’s in the final stages of bringing his PDVSA sponsorship millions across to the Lotus team.
Unfortunately it’s become an increasing habit for Ferrari to place outside of the top 10, – at least with one of their cars anyway – yet this time both cars fell short of performance, with Fernando Alonso in twelfth and Felipe Massa way down the order in seventeenth. Fuel loads could be a factor, but if that lack of pace continues into this afternoon’s second practice session, then it could be worrying…
The only positive that came from Ferrari was a 90-degree angled camera on the left side of Alonso’s car, providing an excellent view of the car and its surroundings.
It’s not often that we see a Sauber in the top half of the timesheets this early on in the weekend. Nico Hülkenberg ended the session 11th, which are good signs for Saturday and Sunday. His teammate Esteban Gutiérrez was 15th.
GP2 driver and Force India reserve James Calado took over Adrian Sutil’s car for the session and finished 14th-fastest, under a second off the sister car driven by Paul di Resta. However, the Englishman went on to blot his copybook with a five-place grid penalty for tomorrow’s GP2 Series Feature Race, which has all but killed his slim hopes of claiming the Drivers’ Championship crown.
Also making appearances in FP1 were Rodolfo González in Max Chilton’s Marussia, and Heikki Kovalainen for Giedo van der Garde in the Caterham.
Even though Kovalainen was assisting the team with setting up the car, he was still just six-hundredths of a second behind number one driver, Charles Pic. Not surprisingly, the well-funded González was comfortably slowest, just under two seconds behind Jules Bianchi.
2013 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:44.241||21|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:44.433||+ 0.192||23|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:44.499||+ 0.258||18|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:44.712||+ 0.471||20|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:44.741||+ 0.500||24|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:44.929||+ 0.688||23|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:45.040||+ 0.799||20|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:45.099||+ 0.858||20|
|9.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:45.150||+ 0.909||24|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:45.331||+ 1.090||20|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:45.378||+ 1.137||23|
|12.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:45.440||+ 1.199||18|
|13.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:45.823||+ 1.582||22|
|14.||James Calado||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:45.924||+ 1.683||20|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:46.068||+ 1.827||18|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:46.114||+ 1.873||22|
|17.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:46.124||+ 1.883||18|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:46.126||+ 1.885||21|
|19.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:47.600||+ 3.359||22|
|20.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT03||1:47.670||+ 3.429||22|
|21.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:47.723||+ 3.482||23|
|22.||Rodolfo Gonzalez||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:49.565||+ 5.324||22|