Istanbul Park: Free Practice 1 & 2

Despite the inevitability of new tyre compounds being tested today, gossip and rumour definitely surrounded who will be where in 2012. Commentators, journalists and fans have all been speculating over where certain drivers will be next year, regardless of whether they have a contract or not. Drivers in focus are Nico Rosberg, Paul di Resta, Mark Webber and Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton was being talked about in Shanghai, but chatter about the ‘limits or loyalty’ seems to have died down following his victory.

It may come as no surprise that Mark Webber is the most vocal on the subject, and at the moment he seems intent on finishing his career at Red Bull rather than switch to another team. If you believe the rumours surrounding Nico Rosberg, he will spend 2012 at either Red Bull or Ferrari, the latter being the most popular. Although Felipe Massa has a contract until the end of 2012, many feel that unless he has a stellar 2011 he will looking for another seat. Then we have Paul di Resta and his successful ties with Mercedes via the DTM series, with his early results it seems likes a sensible move for the Scottish rookie but the driver has put the brakes on the talk. Considering we are only on the fourth race weekend out of 19 (or 20 come the Bahrain decision on 3rd June), anything can happen…and it usually does.

Free Practice 1

Unfortunately, or fortunately, (depends if you’re Mr Ecclestone or not) the weather forecast was spot on today and the track was doused in a considerable amount of water, that seems to get heavier the longer the drivers stayed in their respective garages. Those who went out to brave the rain and cool temperatures took it gently and cautiously navigated their way around the sodden circuit. Despite drivers spending most of their time wrapped up in team apparel (which you can purchase from reputable retailers, naturally), and team members staying warm with a couple of jumping jacks (see McLaren for that), it was a fairly interesting first session. Turn 11 was tranformed into a pond of standing water that caught even the most experiences drivers out. Air temperature was a chilly 10°C and track temperature wasn’t much better at 11°C.

  • Ferrari: The team are using front and rear facing cameras mounted on their front wing. Alonso spoke about his troubles so far in this season, mentioning clutch and start problems, but also his slow reactions.
  • Force India: More talk about di Resta heading to Mercedes, but on track he gingerly navigated his way around for his first time in a F1 car on this track, while testing a new front wing. Hulkenberg was in for Sutil and outpaced di Resta in the wet.
  • Hispania: Karthikeyan caused the first yellow flag of the session very early on, it was due to an engine issue and the team wanted him to stop before any damage was done.
  • Lotus: Chandhok was in for Kovalainen in the first practice and Trulli put in a solid session and pulled out a P15.
  • McLaren: Both drivers completed an installation lap, but both waited until the dying seconds to leave their garage. This leaves them without a time on the board, but allows them to get some practice starts in. The team, however, left it too late and Hamilton was unable to get back onto the track.
  • Mercedes: Schumacher struggled throughout to keep his car from aquaplaning, but teammate Rosberg had a much smoother session feeding back track data and spending a brief time at the top of the timesheets.
  • Red Bull: Webber had a fairly slow start to the session, and only managed 5 laps on the inters. Sebastian Vettel missed the better weather and leapt onto the track on a set of his inters, but he ‘hit the kerb a little bit’, exiting turn 8.
  • Renault: Quiet session for the guys, but they pull the results out and both drivers post close times near the top of the board.
  • Sauber: Perez may have left it too late to get a decent time in, but Kobayashi nips around and produces a good time without any fuss.
  • Toro-Rosso: Ricciardo was in for Alguersuari this morning and performed admirabley despite the weather, he suffered a KERS issue early on, but it was soon resolved. Buemi also had a good session but finished (closely) behind the test driver.
  • Williams: Maldonado had a couple of spins, and ends the session with another that damages his left rear tyre and rear wing on the armco. The team also decided to forgo testing new part in the rain.
  • Virgin: Had a significantly different car for Glock to try out, the front wing is 10cm higher, they also have a new floor, diffuser and exhaust location.

Top FP1 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.670
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:40.072
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:40.132

Read: Full Results

The weather certainly cleared up over lunch, and teams are looking forward to gettinf data off a significantly dryer track. Certain teams had more work to do than others and Red Bull definitely had more work to do than most. Sebastian Vettel continues his bad luck at Istanbul Park as he is forced to sit out of FP2 as there was just too much damage to repair in the short break between sessions. Red Bull fans will be hoping this is the only crash for the team this year. Williams also had a patch job to do on Maldonado’s car, so there were a few people missing out on a leisurely lunch today.  Air temperature was a ‘balmy’ 14°C and track temperature was up to 21°C, but improved throughout the 1.5h practice.

Free Practice 2:

  • Ferrari: Alonso spent time in the garage with hydraulic issues, but when he evetually joined the session he had an uncharacteristic spin at turn 6 and stop on the way into the pits. A small error on a good lap cost Massa a fast time but he easily outpaced his teammate, despite telling the team he had brake issues.
  • Force India: Di Resta beats Sutil in the timesheets.
  • Hispania: For a time, both drivers looks capable of beating both Virgin drivers, but come the chequered flag only Karthikeyan could get ahead.
  • Lotus: The improved weather allows the team to test out new suspension componants and brake ducts.
  • McLaren: Button and Hamilton swapped fastest times in the 30 minutes. However we got a good look at how stiff their car is as it vibrated and wobbled about on the bumpier parts of the track.
  • Mercedes: Schumacher topped the time sheets briefly, but suffered a little embarrassment when he was taken on by Force India and Virgin. However all focus was on Rosberg as he consistantly pulled out fast times throughout the session.
  • Red Bull: Vettel sits out this session. Webber was on long, heavy fuel runs early on, but a switch to a softer compound delivers the times, but doesn’t quite go as high as P1.
  • Renault: Petrov mixes it up with the front runners for a while early on in the session, while Heidfeld can only split the STR boys.
  • Sauber: The drivers swap places as Perez finishes ahead of Kobayashi.
  • Toro-Rosso: A touchy moment for Alguersauri as he touches the kerb, but altogether a quiet session for the Italian team.
  • Williams: Maldonado was delayed in getting out due to ongoing repairs needing to be made following his spin and bash in FP1, and despite experience from his GP2 days he struggled somewhat. Compounded by a driver error saw him make contact with the tyres on the exit of turn 8. Woes continue for Barrichello as he suffers a KERS water leak, stopping the session early.
  • Virgin: They managed to stay off the bottom of the timesheets, but apart from a brave overtake by d’Ambrosio on Schumacher was the only highlight for the team.

Top FP2 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.456
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:26.521
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:27.033

 Read: Full Results


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