Friday, 4 July 2008

British Grand Prix: First Practice

At the end of a dry first practice session it was first blood to Ferrari and to championship leader Felipe Massa. He narrowly edged the McLaren duo of Hamilton and Kovalainen off the top spot, but his morning ended disastrously as his Ferrari ended up buried backwards in the safety barriers at Stowe corner, with half of its rear end missing. Certainly a dramatic start to proceedings at Silverstone!

The top three in the session, Massa, Kovalainen and Hamilton, were separated by less than five hundredths of a second, showing just how closely competitive the top two teams are at the moment. Kimi Raikkonen was a further three tenths back, and Robert Kubica another four behind him. Fernando Alonso again showed that the Renault has developed some real pace by finishing sixth in the session despite only completing seven laps. He was followed by Sebastien Vettel, who yet again showed that he is a real star in the making by comfortably beating all three of the other Red Bull stable cars.

There was a fair bit of on and off track action to keep the spectators entertained. Adrian Sutil tested out the strength of the Force India suspension by launching his car across the bumpy grass at Becketts. Thankfully the wishbones were up to the task and he was able to continue. David Coulthard had a hairy moment on the exit of Luffield whilst trying to get the power down on the grass, and Lewis Hamilton had plenty of his usual crowd pleasing opposite lock antics. Jarno Trulli had a spectacular 360 spin in the Brooklands Complex, but kept the Toyota on the black stuff.

However, the big moment of the session came with half an hour remaining. On the flat out run down the Hangar Straight towards Stowe Fernando Alonso's Renault engine detonated spectacularly, forcing him to pull off and retire from the session. As all eyes were on a furious Alonso and his stricken Renault car, Felipe Massa came storming down the straight. There must have been plenty of Alonso's oil on the track, as the moment Massa touched the brakes the car swapped ends violently. He was a passenger as the car was sent hurtling towards the barriers at about 150mph. He eventually hit the barriers hard in virtually the exact same place Michael Schumacher binned his Ferrari here in 1999, breaking his leg in two places. Fortunately Massa sustained no injuries to speak of as the car impacted rear end first. The same could not be said for his car however, as the right rear side of the car suffered massive damage. It will be interesting to see whether Massa will need and kind of gearbox or engine change after this, which could potentially ruin his race. It will also be interesting to hear what Massa has to say about the Silverstone marshalls, as there appeared to be no yellow and red flags being flown to warn him of the possible danger...

Practice One Times

01. Massa Ferrari 1:19.575
02. Kovalainen McLaren 1:19.587 + 0.012
03. Hamilton McLaren 1:19.623 + 0.048
04. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:19.948 + 0.373
05. Kubica BMW 1:20.367 + 0.792
06. Alonso Renault 1:20.436 + 0.861
07. Vettel Toro Rosso 1:20.588 + 1.013
08. Piquet Renault 1:20.653 + 1.078
09. Coulthard Red Bull 1:20.698 + 1.123
10. Rosberg Williams 1:20.744 + 1.169
11. Webber Red Bull 1:20.892 + 1.317
12. Glock Toyota 1:21.102 + 1.527
13. Heidfeld BMW 1:21.107 + 1.532
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:21.166 + 1.591
15. Trulli Toyota 1:21.265 + 1.690
16. Nakajima Williams 1:21.282 + 1.707
17. Button Honda 1:21.901 + 2.326
18. Sutil Force India 1:22.169 + 2.594
19. Fisichella Force India 1:22.219 + 2.644
20. Barrichello Honda 1:24.123 + 4.548

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