2011 German Grand Prix (Rd 10, Free Practice 1, July 22nd, TV Notes)

Nürburgring. © Creative Commons / WIll Pittenger

On a cool morning at the Nurburgring, Fernando Alonso topped the opening practice session for the German Grand Prix.

So off-colour were the conditions, numerous drivers struggled with tyre and brake temperature throughout practice, with several outbraking themselves and running off circuit.

Alonso was one of the few that kept his machine steady, recording a best time of 1:31.894 – over three-tenths quicker than the Red Bull pairing of Mark Webber (2nd) and Sebastian Vettel (3rd). Felipe Massa assumed 4th position in the second Ferrari, albeit nearly eight-tenths off Alonso’s ultimate pace.
Ferrari approached this weekend with some refined updates and should the first session be true to form, the Italian squad may be able to consolidate their British Grand Prix form.

McLaren arrived at the Nurburgring with a new rear wing (tested by Jenson Button) and several minor aero upgrades. The pair would find themselves well shy of the leading Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton 5th (1.1 seconds slower) and Button in 6th (1.7 seconds down).
Hamilton and Button fared better than both Mercedes though. The turquoise cars, led by Nico Rosberg (7th) were both approximately 1.9 seconds off the pace. Michael Schumacher took 10th in the second Mercedes, but suffered a number of offs during the morning.
Mercedes have been attempting to claw back some of the gap to the leading three teams, but have as yet to find a breakthrough.

Force India brought several rear end upgrades to the track, helping them to 8th (Adrian Sutil) and 9th (Nico Hulkenberg) by the end of the session.
At this early stage, it seems that Force India may be on the verge of jumping Renault in the order. The Swiss-owned team tested new rearward facing exhausts in an attempt to halt their recent slump on form.
Come the chequered flag, Vitaly Petrov claimed 11th with a best of 1:34.094; some four places and 1.3 seconds quicker than under pressure teammate Nick Heidfeld, although Heidfeld was one of only a handful of drivers to set his best on the slower medium tyre.

Williams added new rear wings to their machines, while Rubens Barrichello took a front wing for practice. Barrichello secured 14th place following a 24 lap morning, while Pastor Maldonado struggled to 18th after 29 completed laps – some 4.9 seconds down on the quickest lap of the session.

As the session drew to a close, there two significant offs at turn five. The first of which came from Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus as he bounced across the gravel, rejoining after the following corner.
More serious however, was Sebastien Buemi’s off . The Toro Rosso man lost his Ferrari-powered machine upon entry of the turn, before being launched by the gravel. The STR06 did not flip, but did reach considerable height at speed, coming down with thud in the trap.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m31.894s           30
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m32.217s  + 0.323  24
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m32.268s  + 0.374  27
 4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m32.681s  + 0.787  23
 5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m32.996s  + 1.102  18
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m33.628s  + 1.734  22
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m33.787s  + 1.893  33
 8.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m33.832s  + 1.938  27
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m33.858s  + 1.964  26
10.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m33.863s  + 1.969  31
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1m34.094s  + 2.200  22
12.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.115s  + 3.221  23
13.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.371s  + 3.477  20
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1m35.389s  + 3.495  24
15.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1m35.444s  + 3.550  22
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.371s  + 4.477  22
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1m36.392s  + 4.498  29
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1m36.842s  + 4.948  29
19.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.882s  + 4.988  27
20.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m38.504s  + 6.610  22
21.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault         1m38.765s  + 6.871  19
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1m39.279s  + 7.385  24
23.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1m40.109s  + 8.215  23
24.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1m40.428s  + 8.534  22

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