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Hamilton quickest as Vettel suffers brake problem

NEWS STORY
03/11/2012

Ahead of today's sole free practice session, the air temperature is 32 degrees C, while the track temperature is 47 degrees. It is very, very warm, but since qualifying and the race take place later in the day, as dusk begins to fall, along with the temperatures, this only adds to the challenge the teams and drivers face.

Sebastian Vettel led the way in yesterday's second session however, it wasn't all plain sailing for Red Bull as Mark Webber encountered a KERS problem.

Second quickest, and quickest in the opening session, was Lewis Hamilton, with teammate Jenson Button keeping him company at the top end of the timesheets in both sessions.

While Lotus also looked strong, particularly in FP2, Ferrari wasn't entirely convincing. Having already broken the official curfew on Friday, the Italian team did it again today as new components continue to arrive from Italy. Nonetheless, as Fernando Alonso struggles to keep Vettel in sight, the 0.836s gap in yesterday's session must be giving the Spaniard, and his team, cause for concern.

Williams look much improved here, while Sauber and Force India appeared a little lacklustre.

Tyres this weekend are medium and soft with Pirelli claiming a 0.4s - 0.8s difference between the two. Degradation is minimal thus far leading to claims that a one-stop strategy will be the norm tomorrow.

Perez leads a queue of ten cars at the end of the pitlane, Raikkonen among them. Everyone on primes (medium) at this stage.

In the Ferrari garage flo-vis is being applied (and how) to the underside of Alonso's revised front wing, which, it has to be said, is a work of art.

Raikkonen is told that as his engineers has no GPS he is unable to help him with advice on traffic.

While some drivers return to their pits, driving straight into the garages, others perform a dummy pit stop, leaving plenty of useful black rubber in place in the process.

Five minutes into the session everyone has been out though nobody has posted a time.

Kobayashi is the first driver out for a second run, the Japanese really needing a good result here. Though he looks to have lost his Sauber drive he will want to impress other would-be employers.

As Pic and Karthikeyan leave the pits Kobayashi crosses the line at 1:49.193. He's either very slow or running with a heavy fuel load. Next time around he posts 45.628 suggesting that he is carrying a lot of fuel. Glock goes second (47.968) ahead of Karthikeyan and Pic.

As Perez goes second (46.178), Raikkonen goes quickest in the first two sectors, subsequently crossing the line at 44.654. The Finn, and his teammate, looking strong this weekend.

Maldonado goes fifth (45.762), after a very close encounter with Pic. Elsewhere, Grosjean makes it a Lotus 1-2 with a 44.829. Moments later however, Perez splits the pair with a 44.821.

Hamilton goes quickest in S2, as Senna goes fourth overall (44.934). Having gone quickest in S3 also, Hamilton goes straight to the top of the timesheets with a 44.264.

As Raikkonen flies over the kerbs Maldonado posts 43.979 to go quickest. Grosjean also pushing mighty hard over these new kerbs.

On his first flying lap Massa goes fourth (44.370), watched by his father from the back of the Ferrari garage.

No sooner has Schumacher gone second (44.128) than Hamilton ups the ante with a 42.851 having gone quickest in all three sectors. Again.

Approaching half-time, all but Webber, Vettel, Alonso and Button have posted times, though the Australian is on track.

As Button and Alonso finally leave the pits, Webber goes fifth with a 44.214.

At half-time, it's: Hamilton, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Webber, Raikkonen, Massa, Senna, Grosjean and Rosberg.

Either supreme confidence from Vettel or the German has a problem, 29:00 remaining and he's only completed an installation lap. That said, the lack of activity in his garage suggests confidence. Then again, it could be about the timing of the sessions and the cooling temperatures.

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