Yas Marina: Free Practice 1

I wake up (late…so much for saying the drivers can’t be caught napping!) to Twitter being lit alight with shock at the weather. The McLaren garage was quoted as saying that they told Hamilton not to worry about the rain. Maybe they jinxed it because everyone was squawking about the rain (which turned out to be fairly light). The track had been cleaned and left a soapy residue behind and that combined with the rain to leave the track quite greasy. It was a tentative start from the drivers but the track soon rubbered in and faster times were being set.

So a round up of todays news and then back to the practice.

Massa-ive exit on the cards?:

Banners held aloft in the grandstands today fuelled the rumours of a Felipe Massa and Rob Smedley exit from Ferrari over the winter season. Where would they go…my first choice would be Renault. Could you imagine a Kubica and Massa partnership…the word formidable springs to mind.

More fallout from Brazil:

Found out today that one of the front-jack men, Chris, from Force India team had his passport stolen in Brazil. I’m sure Bernie will be demanding higher security levels for next year…more of this and it will only get harder to defend.

The Virgins and the Russians:

Virgin Racing have a huge annoucement…they’ve acquired funding for the next 4 years from a new title sponsor. From next year they will be known as Marussia Virgin Racing; the sponsor now having a ‘significant’ share in the company. Virgin won’t elaborate on the word ‘significant’, but I think it is safe to assume that it means ‘controlling’ share.

Lotus see you in something else:

I know the puns suck…but Lotus (still not sure what they’ll be called next year) are changing their livery. From the green and yellow of this season to the black and gold of the 70s and 80s. A quick note; Fairuz Fauzy will be taking over Heikki Kovalainen’s car for the first practice.

Free Practice 1:

09:10: Everyone has completed their installation lap, time to see some times.

09:24: The track is drying out and Hamilton goes out on intermediates. He’s testing out a rear wing upgrade that got stuck in customs; apparently a quick visit from the management sorted it out.

09:30: Still pretty quiet, think there are some concerns about the track surface being greasy. Don’t think they want to risk it all on a Friday.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner clears things up with regards to team orders and the championship. Simply put there will be no team orders and it will be up to the drivers to secure a win. And with Vettel saying he will consider track positions; it’s a sign that he wants a Red Bull to win, any Red Bull. Won’t hear the same from Webber because, well, we just won’t. But the hope is that he would do the same.

09:45: No one is out on the track…ha! Don’t feel so guilty about waking up late now. They have to be waiting for the track to dry out; feel sorry for those in the grandstands (read jealous). Alonso’s engine has done Monza which means it’s had a hard life, doubt we’ll see any spectacular times from him today…but when have Ferrari ever shown their hand on a Friday?

09:50: Woohoo! First time on the board and it’s Renault’s Petrov with 1:51.465, but his lead is brief and The Hulk takes the lead with 1:48.863.

09:55: The times are coming thick and fast now. Petrov reclaims the top (1:46.028), Alonso posts 1:46:419, Webber (1:46.626) and Massa (1:47.280). Bit of a scare from Ferrari when Rob Smedley asks Massa to pit…but it’s just a telemetry problem. But judging by Smedley’s voice I thought we were on for an engine problem; but Massa doesn’t agree and goes out for another lap.

10:02: Red Bull looking strong; but Alonso yet to set his fast times, Vettel and Webber swapping leads. Sebastian Vettel came out and put in a couple of flying laps and showed his hand to lay down the gauntlet (1:44.274) …then Mark Webber responds with considerable pace (1:43.840). This will be down the checkered flag.

10:03: Kubica is third with a 1:44.728, Schumacher is fourth (1:45.029).

10:15: Hamilton is now up to second (1:43:862), and Vettel responds with 1:43.477 to take the lead. A Lotus is back in the pits, it’s Fauzy’s and his exhaust has a hole in it.

10:20: Track is rubbering in nicely and the times are tumbling down as expected. And it throws up a permeation we haven’t considered yet; Kubica and Button are putting in some good times, 1:44.080 and 1:44.041 respectively. Could we see them on the podium?

10:30: Vettel improves again to 1:42.760. Seriously; where does this guy find these times? Button now in third (1:43.785); things could be looking up for him. No…wait…he has front locking problems and is asking his team for help. Alonso is in sixth.

10:32: The last first practice of the season is over. Sad times! Oh but for some last minute excitement, Rubens Barrichello stops out on track…hopefully we’ll find out what went on there later.

FP 1 Results:

1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:42.760

2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:43.369

3. Jenson Button – 1:43.785

Read: Full Results

Later rookies!

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