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2011 Airtel Grand Prix of India Friday Practice 1


2011 Airtel Grand Prix of India

Friday Practice 1

Buddh International Circuit

Click here for a large map of the circuit


  Ahead of today's opening session for the latest addition to the Formula One world championship calendar, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 29 degrees.

With every driver's experience of this track limited to simulator work, Xbox or on foot, we can expect a significant amount of running this morning, the greenness of the track surface and dust only adding to the fun.

Tyre choice this weekend is soft - which is the prime tyre - and hard - making its final appearance of the season - as the option. This means that the teams will have more of the softer tyres than the harder tyres at their disposal during today's sessions.

Just a couple of minutes before the session is due to start, memories of Istanbul come flooding back, not the empty grandstands but the sight of marshals attempting to capture a stray dog.

As in Montreal and Monza, there are two distinct DRS zones for this weekend's race, though the device can be used as and when during today's sessions.

There is a large damp patch on the track - just before the main timing beam - as the track was washed down a little earlier.

Adrian Sutil is waiting in the pitlane, the Force India driver eager to be the first man to drive a lap of this impressive venue. Behind him waits Karun Chandhok in the Lotus, the Indian frustrated to have been beaten to the honour. Indeed, he subsequently overtakes his German rival. Behind them, di Resta leads Karthikeyan, Ricciardo, Buemi, Kobayashi and Alguersuari.

Determined to enjoy the moment, and clearly playing up to the crowd, while most drivers return to the pits after an installation lap Chandhok stays out completing the first timed lap of the facility (1:52.148).

Hamilton is using the same front wing he used in Korea, indeed, it is pointed out that it hasn't even been cleaned since the last race. One of the slots on the wing has a piece of rubber (marble) lodged in it from the last race, however, the Woking team has left it in place to discover why it had such an impact on downforce. Consequently, the team is also using a significant amount of flo-viz.

The session is red-flagged when another dog is spotted running around - thankfully no cats.

The session restarts five minutes later, with warnings that we can expect more stray canines. Button is first out.

Lots of drivers and cars running tributes to Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli this weekend, following two tragic weekends for motor sport.

Ralf Schumacher is a visitor to the Mercedes garage, the German appearing to have put on a few pounds since we last saw him.

Surprisingly, twenty-odd minutes into the session, there is still only one name on the timesheet, that of Karun Chandhok. However, fellow Indian Karthikeyan looks set to be the second driver to post a time… indeed, the HRT driver crosses the line at 45.906. Elsewhere, Hamilton tries out one of the run off, the Englishman getting it all wrong at Turn 9.

Karthikeyan improves with a 42.310 as Ricciardo goes second on 43.177, however, Schumacher looks likely to post the first serious time of the day. The Mercedes driver subsequently posts 38.658, moments after Ricciardo improved with a 39.835.

As Schumacher improves with a 35.275, Kobayashi runs wide, the track clearly very, very dusty.

Early days, but this track could be anywhere, if it wasn't for the signs proclaiming it to be the 'Buddh International Circuit' it could be any one of a number of other Tilke venues. That said, as we said, early days.

Rosberg goes second with a 37.116, his teammate having improved to 34.635. Kobayashi goes third ahead of Alguersuari, Ricciardo, Karthikeyan and Chandhok.

A 32.911 sees Alguersuari go quickest, the Spaniard setting the pace in all three sectors. Maldonado goes third with a 34.345 while Senna gets it wrong at Turn 6 as he shadows Hamilton.

As Sutil has a big moment, Button goes quickest with a 30.794, the times now moving closer to the anticipated lap time of 1:27.

At half-time, it's: Button, Buemi, Alguersuari, Webber, di Resta, Maldonado, Sutil, Rosberg, Schumacher and Kobayashi.

Vettel is the latest driver to enjoy an excursion, the German going off at Turn 5 and running over the very bumpy artificial grass run off. Button consolidates his top spot with a 29.694 while Schumacher re-takes second with a 30.800 only to be demoted by Webber (30.643).

Benefiting from a tow from his teammate, Schumacher improves with a 29.353, fellow German Vettel posting 33.681 to take tenth.

With d'Ambrosio, Alonso, Glock and Hamilton yet to post a time, Massa goes fourth with a 30.106. Next time around the Brazilian runs wide, the Ferrari like a bucking bronco over the run-off.

Alonso, having posted a 35.899, takes to the parallel escape road at Turn 10, his session over. Telling the team that there is a power loss he is told to park the car. The Spaniard, who is wearing tributes to both Wheldon and Simoncelli on his helmet sits down on the grass, looking thoroughly miserable.

While the Ferrari pit-wall crew look thoroughly dejected, Massa improves to second with a 29.473.

Hamilton loses time behind Glock, the Englishman posting 32.205 to go twelfth. Elsewhere, Petrov is the latest to go gross country.

A 29.227 sees Hamilton go second, the entire field now covered by 9.841s. However, like most of his rivals, his time is set on softs, sixth placed Webber being the quickest on hards.

No sooner has Button gone quickest with a 28.501 than his teammate goes quicker by almost a second (27.515). Almost unseen, Vettel, on softs, posts 28.802 to go fourth. Next time around the world champion improves to second with a 28.316, thereby splitting the McLarens.

Webber, now on softs, goes second with a 27.671, just 0.156s off Hamilton's pace. Business as usual at the front end then, Red Bull and McLaren.

With 17:00 on the clock it's: Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Button, Schumacher, Sutil, Buemi, Massa, Rosberg and di Resta.

Talking of 'business as usual', Vettel goes quickest (27.416) and his teammate second (27.428). Meanwhile, Ferrari confirms that an "engine problem" sidelined Alonso. Schumacher complains of rear locking.

In his enthusiasm to lay some rubber in his pit slot, Chandhok loses the back end and spins around almost getting picked up by Maldonado in the process.

As Alonso's car arrives back in the pits, the front wing on his teammate's car is wobbling violently and actually appears to scrape the ground.

It's all over for Alguersuari who loses his Toro Rosso at Turn 9, damaging the rear of the car as he goes into the barrier. Replay shows the Spaniard losing the car at the previous corner, catching it then losing it again. Moments later, Maldonado's session also comes to an end following an engine failure. A marshal runs to his aid with a fire extinguisher. In the paddock, Bernie Ecclestone meets and greets.

Turn 5 continues to catch out drivers, Perez being the latest.

As the clock counts down, Hamilton is on a quick lap, indeed, having gone quickest in S1, the McLaren driver closes to within 0.030s of pace-setter Vettel. Button, who posts PBs in the first two sectors, fails to improve due to yellows in the final sector.

Having gone quickest in S1 once again, and with the yellow flags removed, Hamilton takes the top spot with a 26.836 as Button complains about Karthikeyan almost coming to a stop on his previous lap.

The session ends with Hamilton quickest, ahead of Vettel, Webber, Button, Schumacher, Rosberg, Massa, Sutil, Buemi and Kobayashi.

Di Resta is eleventh, ahead of Petrov, Senna, Perez, Barrichello, Alguersuari, Maldonado, Trulli, Chandhok, Glock, Ricciardo, Karthikeyan, d'Ambrosio and Alonso.


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