McLaren and Ferrari claimed the honours following both free practice sessions for the Indian Grand Prix on Friday.
On a dusty and dirty Jaypee International Circuit, Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheets in the morning with a 1:26.836, although the McLaren pilot would garner a three-place grid penalty in the process.
The 2008 World Champion set his quickest lap while running through a double-waved yellow flag section. Driver steward Johnny Herbert handed the same penalty to Sauber’s Sergio Perez for the same reason.
Hamilton’s best was a clear half-second faster than Red Bull duo, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, with Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button a further second adrift.
The opening session stuttered somewhat under the weight of several incidents, including a brief red flag period due to a wild dog roaming the circuit.
Jaime Alguersuari obtained some television time when he backed his Toro Rosso his the barriers at turn ten, while several moments later Williams’ Pastor Maldonado pulled off the circuit with a blown engine.
An engine problem also halted Fernando Alonso’s progress before the hour mark, with the Spaniard completing only four laps as a result.
Several drivers also marked the opening session with a number of off-track excursions, the most severe of which coming from Vettel, Bruno Senna (Renault), Adrian Sutil (Force India) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari).
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 01. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.836s 22 02. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.416s + 0.580 23 03. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.428s + 0.592 27 04. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.394s + 1.558 23 05. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.531s + 1.695 23 06. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.542s + 1.706 29 07. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.644s + 1.808 22 08. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m28.705s + 1.869 23 09. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m29.219s + 2.383 24 10. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m29.355s + 2.519 29 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m29.700s + 2.864 24 12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m29.705s + 2.869 22 13. Bruno Senna Renault 1m29.799s + 2.963 20 14. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.132s + 3.296 25 15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m30.367s + 3.531 21 16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.566s + 3.730 19 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m30.699s + 3.833 22 18. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m30.818s + 3.982 22 19. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1m32.487s + 5.651 24 20. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m32.771s + 5.935 24 21. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m33.928s + 7.092 27 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m34.113s + 7.277 30 23. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m35.896s + 8.960 19 24. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.899s + 9.063 4
In the afternoon, Massa jumped to the top of the standings ahead of Vettel and Alonso. The Brazilian spent much of session gathering lap data for a new front wing – an element that raised a number of eyebrows due to its violently flexing endplates.
One of the last to set a fastest lap, Massa turned in a 1:25.706, before concentrating on a race set-up stint.
The Ferrari man would complete thirty-three laps before the chequered flag emerged, leaving him with an advantage of 0.088 seconds over the quickest Red Bull.
Vettel held the top spot for much of second practice, garnering 34 laps around the Jaypee Circuit. A gap of 0.136 split Vettel and Alonso (3rd), although the Spaniard may well have been happy to get in a good deal of running, following his abbreviated morning.
Behind the fastest trio was Hamilton. After heading the pack by at least half-a-second in the morning, the McLaren racer’s best was now 0.5 slower than Alonso’s, although qualifying set-up work may not have been a priority.
The afternoon running also hit a few bumps in the road. With numerous drivers falling off seemingly everywhere, a couple were bound to lose it completely.
On this occasion, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado beached his FW33 into the gravel at turn nine, while later Jerome d’Ambrosio hit the barrier hard exiting turn eleven. Sadly for d’Ambrosio, his Virgin Racing car was quite far beyond repair; however Maldonado returned to action late on in the session, once his car had been returned to the garage.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.706s 33 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.794s + 0.088 34 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.930s + 0.224 34 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.454s + 0.748 26 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m26.500s + 0.794 30 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m26.714s + 1.008 28 7. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.316s + 1.610 34 8. Bruno Senna Renault 1m27.498s + 1.792 36 9. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.853s + 2.147 35 10. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.868s + 2.162 35 11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m27.890s + 2.184 37 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.050s + 2.344 34 13. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.289s + 2.583 36 14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.552s + 2.846 31 15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m28.691s + 2.985 29 16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m28.708s + 3.002 24 17. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m29.332s + 3.626 39 18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m30.241s + 4.535 41 19. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m31.098s + 5.392 38 20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m31.469s + 5.763 32 21. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m31.804s + 6.098 28 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m32.593s + 6.887 12 23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m32.768s + 7.062 33 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m32.824s + 7.118 33