Okay, this is my first weekend of full Grand Prix coverage, I’ll split it up into the practices, qualifying and the race itself. And if you’re wondering exactly what happens during the run up to the race weekend? Check out my ‘Race Weekend’ guide to get a brief insight into what a team does on the run up to race day.
But before we get down to how FP1 played out; I’ll get you up to date with the gossip, because there’s quite a bit to get through.
Massa supporting Alonso?
Apparently so. Massa has come out and said that he would like his teammate to win, surely the biggest indication that he is willing to help Alonso out. There are a couple of things that strike me as odd; the main point being that this is a rather odd statement to make before your home race. Then of course we have to look at his pace over the whole season…could he really be of any help to Alonso during the race? If he wants to steal points from the Red Bull’s he has to beat them…something he has been unable to do of late.
Button going all out
Button is apparently going all out on his strategy this weekend; obviously in an attempt to defend his championship. Only time will tell if it makes a difference; he’ll have to win, and Alonso, Webber, Vettel and Hamilton will have to have pretty bad races.
The biggest story of the weekend but a long way. It all kicked off yesterday with a seemingly normal press conference outside the Red Bull motor home…then Mark Webber speaks. He doesn’t say loads; but he says enough to sent the media into a frenzy.
I would suggest reading this as it’s refreshing to find a F1 driver who isn’t afraid to speak his mind…but what a time to do it! One view is that he is struggling under the pressure to win; and this is a last gasp attempt to unsettle the young German. The other side is that he’s a brilliant strategist and did this to pull the focus onto him after Korea. I mean; BBC coverage was all over it, the only thing to top this was Alonso not being able to finish his final lap in FP1…
Free Practice 1
Overall it was what you can expect from the first outing on a Friday; the lower end of the field going out first, along with those who are new to the track. Friday is really all about getting to grips with the track surface and beginning to figure out what the strategy is going to be in qualifying and race day.
Some changes to the field today; Jerome d’Ambrosio, who has been linked with a race drive with Virgin Racing next season, is in Lucas di Grassi’s car for first practice while Christian Klien is in Sakon Yamamoto’s seat for Hispania this weekend.
12:05: One time on the lap board and that belongs to Sebastian Buemi with a 1:27.979 fast lap, early days yet and of course the times will fall significantly.
12:34: More times finally. Renault’s Vitaly Petrov sets a 1:14.659, then it is Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari (1:15.654), Klien (1:17.023), d’Ambrosio (1:18.203) and Bruno Senna (1:19.958).
12:39: Petrov improves to a 1:14.370 with Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld second (1:14.764).
12:45: Movement at the top of the board now as home favourite Barichello with a 1:13.546 lap, quickly followed by Schumacher and Webber.
12:54: And Webber makes a point by getting ahead of the field with a 1:13.168 lap. Vettel is just starting a 9 lap run, so expect to see some change at the top.
1302: Vettel is now top (1:12.351) with Hamilton second fastest (1:12.845).
1307: A flash of a yellow flag as Jaime Alguersuari spins at Turn One. Not matter; he collects himself and continues. Vettel improves his lead to 1:12.328.
1315: Whatever McLaren has been doing in the pits for Button is working; he’s up to fourth with a 1:13.267 lap.
1321: Petrov makes a mistake at turn 7 and crashes into the barrier; throwing his hands in the air he hops out quickly and inspects his damaged front end. (Turns out it was an F-duct issue and not his fault, but still doesn’t look good)
1329: Yellow flag again; Kobayashi this time and he’s spun off at the exact spot Petrov did earlier (He ran over some debris which caused a puncture). And shockingly Alonso is off as well…panic over…this was expected as his engine is at the end of its life. Although it happened two laps earlier that expected. Though I’m sure there are some wry smiles at Red Bull and McLaren. And maybe a small one from Massa.
FP 1 Results:
1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:12.328
2. Mark Webber – 1:12.810
3. Lewis Hamilton – 1:12.845
Not long until FP2…