Tag Archives: Mark Webber

Hamilton and Schumacher miss final Q3 run after “ridiculous” incident

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Hamilton was clearly frustrated after today's qualifying

Both Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton lost out at the end of Q3 in today’s Japanese Grand Prix qualifying, missing out on the final run in the dying minutes.

As a pack of four cars approached the final chicane – led by Jenson Button – teammate Lewis Hamilton backed off to create a raceable gap between the two McLarens. However, Mark Webber dived down the inside of Hamilton in order to retain a clean section of track in front of him. Meanwhile, Schumacher was on the outside, and took to the run-off area to avoid the duo.

Hamilton was on top of the timesheets at the time, but failed to set another time after crossing the line after the chequered flag. Schumacher suffered the same fate, while Webber made little impact on the frontrunners.

When asked about the incident, Lewis was initially coy on explaining, but later gave his view:

"It is what it is. Jenson was in front of me and he slowed down to get his gap. I 
was coming up to the last corner to make sure I had a gap between me and him. It 
wasn't that big.

Just as I was coming into the chicane I looked in my mirror and I saw Mark diving 
up the inside of me. Out of nowhere, he just shot up the inside and nearly 
crashed with me, so I had to avoid him.

And then I saw...I didn't even see Michael as I gave Mark room, but he nearly 
crashed on me on the left, so it was quite dangerous.

I don't know what the hell he was doing, but he went off onto the grass. It was 
just the most ridiculous thing I've ever experienced in qualifying.

I really hope somebody finds the footage for what happened because it wasn't right 
and it stopped my last qualifying lap."

On the other hand, Schumacher claimed that Hamilton had pushed him onto the grass:

"I had Webber in front because Hamilton slowed down. I don't know what was in front 
of him, if he really had to slow down that much, but it was tight for all three of 
us so we all had to push somehow to make it through and do another lap.

At that moment I was set to do a lap because I didn't know whether Kobayashi, or 
somebody, may go out [to set a time]. I tried my best and Lewis pushed me a little 
bit wide onto the grass."

As of yet there is no television footage of the incident.


Vettel rivals concede 2011 title

All of Sebastian Vettel’s title rivals have all but given up hopes on challenging for the 2011 championship crown.

This comes after a crushing victory for the German, slicing past Fernando Alonso in the early stages and dominating the race from there.

Teammate Mark Webber, who has barely led a lap this year, never mind win a race, was the first to concede the title:

"I think we're all battling for second now. Seb needs to have a very, very 
incredibly disappointing finish to the season for anyone to take the 
championship off him at this point.

He's in a great position. He's done a great job. And clearly the car was good 
today, so it was a missed opportunity for me."

Fernando Alonso was next up, stating that the title was well out of reach:

"Sure, it would have been fantastic to do the double after 2010, but we must 
stay cool and concentrate and try to reach targets that are within our reach: 
today we did just that. It’s true the title has gone now, but there is still 
great motivation: we want to win races and try to defend the position I have 
just reached in the drivers’ championship."

Lewis Hamilton was more blunt with his statement, saying:  “I doubt it’s still possible to beat Sebastian for the title, but we’ll keep pushing.”

Vettel has a 112-point lead over Fernando Alonso, and a 117-point lead over Button and Webber, with Hamilton a further 9 points adrift. There are 150 points up for grabs in the final 6 races of the season.

In order to win the championship at the next round in Singapore, Vettel must win the race, with Fernando Alonso 4th or lower.

Webber leads second practice before rain arrives

Webber took advantage of a brief dry period to go fastest

Webber took advantage of a brief dry period to go fastest

Mark Webber nipped in a fast lap just before a rain shower to head second practice in Belgium.

The session began in damp conditions, as the Renaults of Petrov and Senna traded fastest laps. As the track dried out, most of the frontrunners decided to test out their long-range strategies on the harder (medium) tyre.

However, the prospect of further rain forced drivers to take on the soft tyre earlier than expected. Mark Webber posted a 1:50.321 to take top spot, ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Both McLarens were 3rd and 4th, while Sebastian Vettel was only 10th after not setting a time on the option tyre.

Hulkenberg and Sutil in 8th and 9th were separated by 0.026 seconds. A steering issue left Vitaly Petrov in the pits during the dry conditons, and the Russian ended up in last place.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:50.321           22
 2.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari               1:50.461  + 0.140  18
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.770  + 0.449  9
 4.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.838  + 0.517  9
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari               1:51.218  + 0.897  14
 6.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes              1:51.242  + 0.921  22
 7.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.655  + 1.334  20
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes  1:51.725  + 1.404  17
 9.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes  1:51.751  + 1.430  8
10.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault      1:51.790  + 1.469  13
11.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes              1:51.922  + 1.601  22
12.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Cosworth     1:52.750  + 2.429  20
13.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari        1:52.780  + 2.459  25
14.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:52.911  + 2.590  24
15.  Sébastien Buemi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:53.009  + 2.688  24
16.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth     1:53.156  + 2.835  17
17.  Bruno Senna         Renault               1:53.835  + 3.514  20
18.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus-Renault         1:55.051  + 4.730  20
19.  Timo Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:55.494  + 5.173  22
20.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus-Renault         1:56.202  + 5.881  15
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio   Virgin-Cosworth       1:56.816  + 6.495  20
22.  Tonio Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth          1:57.450  + 7.129  19
23.  Daniel Ricciardo    HRT-Cosworth          1:57.612  + 7.291  24
24.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault               2:02.234  + 11.913 12

Webber crashes out of Hungary FP1 while Hamilton leads

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Lewis Hamilton topped the first practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The highlight of the session was Mark Webber crashing out, ending his session prematurely. He lost control of his Red Bull at Turn 9, and hit the barrier, taking the front end off the car.

The session began as damp and lacking grip, but dried out throughout the day. This led to several lock-ups and drivers running wide in the session.

Hamilton’s time of 1:23.350 was enough to take the top spot. He could have gone faster at the end, but was held up by Jaime Alguersuari. Sebastian Vettel was 2 tenths behind in 2nd. Fernando Alonso suffered a small fire on the car during the day, but still participated in the session to go 3rd.

Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov made it into the top 10. Bruno Senna drove Nick Heidfeld’s car for the session, and was 0.8 seconds slower than Petrov.

Daniel Ricciardo was in last place, 8 tenths off his teammate Liuzzi.

Times from Hungarian FP1:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.350   	      19
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:23.564  + 0.214   24
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:23.642  + 0.292   29
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:23.666  + 0.316   12
 5.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.772  + 0.422   20
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:24.115  + 0.765   25
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:24.250  + 0.900   22
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:24.369  + 1.019   20
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.620  + 1.270   24
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:25.093  + 1.743   22
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:25.113  + 1.763   21
12.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:25.336  + 1.986   22
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.357  + 2.007   17
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:25.836  + 2.486   24
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1:25.855  + 2.505   25
16.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:25.890  + 2.540   28
17.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.099  + 2.749   36
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:26.124  + 2.774   25
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:26.878  + 3.528   26
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:27.352  + 4.002   21
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.533  + 5.183   30
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.903  + 5.553   22
23.  Vitantonio Liuzzi     HRT-Cosworth          1:29.059  + 5.709   24
24.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:29.904  + 6.554   26

Webber snatches pole in Germany

Mark Webber will start on pole position ahead of the German Grand Prix. He will start ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who pulled out a stunning lap at the end of Q3 to move ahead of Sebastian Vettel in 3rd. Fernando Alonso failed to beat the Red Bulls after a promising start to the weekend. Here is the full report:


Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

Ricciardo went within 0.02 seconds of Liuzzi

As expected in Q1, most of the frontrunners did their best to conserve their soft tyres. Felipe Massa was the only driver in the top 6 who felt the need to put on the options in Q1.

Daniel Ricciardo got much closer to Vitantonio Liuzzi compared to last race – only 0.025 seconds away. Karun Chandhok split the two Virgin cars to go 21st.

Timo Glock was 20th, but complained to his team, claiming they were “making his life difficult”. Heikki Kovalainen was comdfortably the fastest of the bottom 3 teams.

Sauber’s strategy of holding their drivers in the garage for the first half of Q1 failed to pay off. A 1:33.786 wasn’t enough for Kamui Kobayashi to make it through the session, and he will start the race 18th.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:33.786

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:35.599

20) Timo Glock – 1:36.400

21) Karun Chandhok – 1:36.422

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:36.641

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:37.011

24) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.036


Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Perez struggled for pace in Q2

Lewis Hamilton was the first man of the weekend to enter the 1:30’s, leading the two Red Bulls.

Vitaly Petrov pushed Michael Schumacher out of 10th, before he was de-seated by Paul di Resta.

Schumacher moved back into the top 10, while Adrian Sutil went 7th to knock his teammate out of Q2. Nick Heidfeld improved on his time to stay 10th, before Petrov came back to go 9th.

Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello were 13th and 14th, with Sergio Perez 15th. The Toro Rossos of Buemi and Alguersuari were 16th and 17th.

Update: Buemi has been excluded from qualifying because of fuel irregularities. He will start tomorrow’s race either last, or from the pit lane.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nick Heidfeld – 1:32.215

12) Paul di Resta – 1:32.560

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.635

14) Rubens Barrichello – 1:33.043

15) Sergio Perez – 1:33.176

16) Sebastien Buemi – Excluded

17) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:33.698


Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Webber resisted a charge from Lewis to take pole

Fernando Alonso led the way out of the pits for Q3. He briefly went fastest, before Hamilton beat the Spaniard by one tenth.

However, the searing Red Bull pace quickly propelled Mark Webber in front by 0.4 seconds. Vettel was a single tenth behind his teammate.

Massa’s and Button’s times were well off the pace, while Petrov went 7th. Neither Mercedes or Adrian Sutil set a time n the first 5 minutes, instead electing to go out while the frontrunners were in the pits.

Fernando Alonso pushed his Ferrari to the limit, but only moved into 3rd. Mark Webber improved by a tenth to stay on top, while Lewis Hamilton pulled out an incredible lap to split the Red Bulls, after Vettel moved into 3rd place.

Nico Rosberg pipped a dissappointing Button to 6th, while Adrian Sutil was 8th. Vitaly Petrov and Michael Schumacher finished off the top 10.

Lewis was delighted with his 2nd position, describing it as a “wicked lap”, going over a second faster than teammate Button.

While a Red Bull on pole was not too surprising, it was a joy to see Alonso and particularly Hamilton push their cars to the absolute limit. The gap to the previously invincible Red Bulls has disappeared, and it has set up for a fantastic race tomorrow, with rain on the forecasts…

2011 mid-way driver rankings: 14 – 6

Here is part 2 of the mid-season review of all the Formula 1 drivers. This article tackles drivers ranked 14th up to 6th.

14 – Felipe Massa

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Massa has found himself being beaten by all his rivals

Ranking in 2010: 14th

Review from 2010 ranking: “No race wins, no pole positions, no fastest laps, and no hope for 2012 if he doesn’t improve fast.”

To lag behind Sebastian Vettel in 2011 is to be expected. But to have only a quarter of the German’s points, while driving a Ferrari, is nothing short of laughable.

This year was where the Pirelli tyres would leap Massa back through the field. Nothing of the sort has occurred. Take the Spanish Grand Prix for example – Fernando Alonso tussled for the lead in the early stages, while Massa was being beaten by the Force Indias in the envious battle for 10th.

With less than half of Alonso’s points, and not even a sniff at a podium finish, Felipe has been completely dominated. He has yet to out-qualify Fernando at any point in 2011.

While it would be incredibly difficult for Ferrari to find a driver as talented as Alonso, they need a second driver who can consistently take podiums, not struggle for 6th.

13 – Paul di Resta

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Di Resta has had a solid start in F1

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Ragged drives have lost him points, but nevertheless a decent start to his F1 career for the Scot.

Di Resta’s best performances so far have been in qualifying, as he has out-qualified teammate Sutil 7 times in 9 races, with over 0.6 seconds in the average gap between the two.

However, despite spending more laps in front of Sutil than vice-versa, Paul has struggled for results, with only 2 points to his name. He was on course for a large points haul in Britain, before a tyre mix-up ruined his chances.

Poorly-judged moves, particularly in Monaco and Canada, have also cost Di Resta. However, with more consistency and experience, he may be able to challenge Sutil in the driver’s championship.

12 – Jaime Alguersuari

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Alguersuari has improved in recent races

Ranking in 2010: 19th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Three points finishes is all he could do, with a car that never really looked like pushing for points.”

Alguersuari came very close to being replaced, but several good drives have rescued his career.

3 points-scoring finishes in a row have kept Jaime his Toro Rosso race seat from going to Daniel Ricciardo. The Spaniard now lies one point ahead of Sebastien Buemi.

His qualifying results have been poor, but in recent races Alguersuari has been able to turn Q1 knockouts into points on race day.

Both of the Toro Rosso drivers’ futures still hang in the balance though, so it will be interesting to see which driver ends the season on top.

11 – Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Heidfeld has not performed up to expectations

Ranking in 2010: 16th (Only 5 races)

Review from 2010 ranking: “He will need to work fast just to get a drive for next year.”

Hailed as a consistent replacement for the injured Kubica, Heidfeld has not had the required impact at Renault so far.

The German has only just taken the lead in the championship standings battle with Vitaly Petrov. With 11 years of F1 experience, much more was expected, especially going up against a rookie driver.

Heidfeld has been soundly beaten in qualifying, being knocked out in Q1 on more than one occasion. Reliable driving as always has helped him in the races, but a lack of raw pace is holding Nick back.

10 – Michael Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Driver errors are still an issue for Schumacher

Ranking in 2010: 12th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Schumacher’s 2011 campaign entirely hinges on the W02.”

Expected to be soundly beaten this year, Michael Schumacher has surprised some by showing much improvement from last year.

While his qualifying record against Nico Rosberg is still extremely poor, race day has allowed Schumacher to make huge progress, often held back by misfortune.

Punctures in Australia and Britain, DRS difficulties in China, as well as being swamped near the end of the Canadian GP, show that Michael’s points tally doesn’t reflect his occasionally great drives this year.

12 points is a gap that could be easily bridged with good luck. Further improvement this year would be the main aim for Schumacher.

9 – Vitaly Petrov

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Petrov has improved compared to last year

Ranking in 2010: 10th

Review from 2010 ranking: “2011 should see Petrov improve even more.”

A first-ever podium in Australia, followed by leading Heidfeld for most of this year – 2011 has not gone badly for the Russian.

Consistently out-qualifying Nick, often by huge margins, shows that Petrov has improved alongside Renault this year. However, it is still apparent that neither driver could hold a candle to Robert Kubica, who surely would be dicing it with the Red Bulls at this stage.

The hot-blown diffuser crackdown has hugely hurt the team, so expect to see Petrov and Heidfeld slip down the order. Still, it will be up to Petrov to take the majority of Renault’s points this year.

8 – Sergio Perez

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Perez is arguably the rookie of the year

Ranking in 2010: N/A

Review from 2010 ranking: N/A

Already a master of the 1-stop strategy, impressive pace has led many to praise Perez as rookie of the year.

With 7th place in his first ever F1 race, his talent was clearly apparent. Poor luck in Malaysia and China held him back, before another points finish in Spain.

His year was disrupted by a heavy crash in Monaco, ruling him out for 2 races. However, the smash did nothing to faze the Mexican, taking 11th on his return, then a career-best 7th in Britain.

A large tally of points could have been taken in Monaco and Canada, so Perez’s current total doesn’t reflect his excellent performances so far.

Two energetic rookies may not seem like an intelligent combo, but it has worked wonders for Sauber so far. With luck, Perez could even challenge to finish in the top 10 in the championship.

7 – Mark Webber

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Webber has been dominated by his teammate

Ranking in 2010: 2nd

Review from 2010 ranking: “Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign.”

While Sebastian Vettel continues to rip up tarmac at the front, Mark Webber seems to be lacking in pace, and is at risk of being overtaken by Fernando Alonso. What’s going on?

It’s not like the days of Ferrari domination, though. Back then, when Schumacher crushed his opponents to win, Barrichello would come around in 2nd place. This year, a single 2nd place is all Webber can muster so far.

In Australia, for example, Mark had absolutely no pace. His first pole position (Spain) was ruined by a bad start, relegating him to 4th after the chequered flag.

Webber has had good moments though. A spirited charge through the field in China saw him take 15 places back after a qualifying disaster.

However, his second pole saw him suffer a similar fate, slipping to 3rd during the race.

On the plus side, the Australian is yet to finish outside the top 5. Still, that doesn’t mean much when your teammate hasn’t fallen lower than 2nd at any point.

6 – Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Kobayashi is as impressive as ever

Ranking in 2010: 9th

Review from 2010 ranking: “Kobayashi has breathed fresh life into Formula 1 with his “unique” [driving] style.

Still as exciting to watch as ever, Kobayashi continues to punch well above his weight with scintillating drives.

If people were asked which car was quicker – the Mercedes or the Sauber – there would be little doubt that the Mercedes has much better pace. Because of this, seeing Kobayashi only 3 points behind 7-time world champion Schumacher will demonstrate how much Kamui is extracting from the car.

6 points finishes in a row is much better and more consistent than many drivers – only the Red Bulls, McLarens and Alonso can claim better records.

While teammate Perez is taking headlines for his special 1-stoppers, Kobayashi tends to take the 2-stop route. Compared to the rest of the grid, both Perez and Kobayashi have taken the least pit stops this year, which is a massive advantage.

Like Perez, a top 10 finish in the championship is well within Kamui’s reach.

Red Bull eyeing up Webber replacement?

Less than 3 days after Mark Webber sensationally ignored team orders at the British Grand Prix, rumours are abound that Red Bull is looking for a replacement for the Aussie.

Lagging 80 points behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, and clearly not gelling with the team’s bias towards Seb, Webber has made his feelings clear in the last few days:

"I am not fine with it [team orders]. No. That's the answer to that. If Fernando 
retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the 
end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place."

However, the Red Bull team appear to disagree with Webber’s view. Helmut Marko, well known as giving little attention to anyone but Vettel, has hinted at replacing Mark:

"We have other options but I don’t want to talk about them now."

In recent days, it has emerged that the team are in secret talks with Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 F1 world champion and current WRC driver. These reports were first made by German newspaper Bild, and they claim this leak comes from a source “at the highest level”.

Raikkonen himself has recently said to a journalist: “I have never said that my Formula 1 career is over.”

Webber pips Vettel in Silverstone qualifying

Mark Webber will start on pole position for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix. The Australian was 0.04 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, while both Red Bulls were challenged by the Ferraris. Lewis Hamilton had a torrid qualifying, while Paul di Resta drove brilliantly to 6th position. Here is the full report:


Heikki Kovalainen got through to Q2

Heikki Kovalainen got through to Q2

After heavy rain on Friday, the track was certainly not in prime position. Instead of only one or two short runs, most of the field opted to take on heavy fuel and stay out longer, in order to help the track rubber in.

The times tumbled during the session, with Felipe Massa and even Pastor Maldonado leading at certain points.

Mark Webber went fastest with a 1:32.6 with 6 minutes to go. However, the rain returned once again, ruining the final laps of those in the drop zone. The Toro Rossos of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi suffered most, finishing 18th and 19th. Heikki Kovalainen pushed his way up to 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo failed to beat Vitantonio Liuzzi in his first qualifying session, falling away by 0.6 seconds. Nick Heidfeld just scraped through to Q2, finishing in 17th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:35.245

19) Sebastien Buemi – 1:35.749

20) Timo Glock – 1:36.203

21) Jarno Trulli 1:36.456

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:37.154

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:37.484

24) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.059

107% time: 1:39.156


Pastor Maldonado edged through to Q3

Pastor Maldonado edged through to Q3

While the rain quickly stopped, the track remained damp as Q2 began. Several cars emerged from the pits on soft tyres, while both Mercedes drivers took on intermediates.

Rosberg and Schumacher were joined by Fernando Alonso on inters, while it became apparent that certain parts of the track were unsuitable for dry tyres. Despite this, the dry tyres soon became the way to go, as the times began to tumble again.

Both Williams drivers topped the timesheets for several minutes, before being beaten by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. Mark Webber, and then Adrian Sutil, thrashed that time by 2 seconds.

Fernando Alonso set a 1:31.727 to go fastest. Vettel went 4th, while Massa and Webber moved to the top.

With 1 minute to go, the times were still falling, as a last gap charge for Q3 began. Pastor Maldonado edged out Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez for 10th place, while Button leaped from 14th t0 4th on his final lap.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil – 1:32.617

12) Sergio Perez – 1:32.624

13) Michael Schumacher – 1:32.656

14) Vitaly Petrov – 1:32.734

15) Rubens Barrichell0 – 1:33.119

16) Nick Heidfeld – 1:33.805

17) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:34.821


Webber broke Vettel's streak of pole positions

Webber broke Vettel's streak of pole positions

With more rain expected for Q3, the smarter drivers were the first out of the pits. Sebastian Vettel set a 1:30.431, while Mark Webber went 4 hundreths faster than his teammate.

The Ferraris went 3rd and 4th, while the McLarens were horribly off the pace. Button was 1.5 seconds off Webber, with Hamilton a further second behind.

Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg went 8th and 9th, with Hamilton relegated to 10th. Paul di Resta impressively went 6th, ahead of Pastor Maldonado.

With 3 minutes to go, the final runs were being prepared. However, the rain began to fall again, albeit not as intensive as before. While Jenson Button went out for a final lap time, he gave up before the end of sector 1. Nico Rosberg bravely tried a last-gasp run, but a slip entering the Hangar Straight ended his lap prematurely.

With no further fast laps to be set, Mark Webber was declared to have pole position, marginally ahead of his teammate. Alonso was one tenth off Vettel, with Massa and Button 4th and 5th. Paul di Resta put in a fantastic lap to go 6th.

Webber heads damp Friday practice in Britain

Kobayashi parks his broken Sauber

Kobayashi parks his broken Sauber

Mark Webber led the first practice session of the British Grand Prix weekend, as rain disrupted proceedings.

The session was initially damp, then rain fell within the hour, ensuring times would not go near those set last year.

Michael Schumacher suffered several off-track moments, but still led the session several times across the 90 minutes. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso traded fastest laps, until the session was yellow flagged for Kamui Kobayashi’s crash.

The Sauber driver lost control at the exit of Club, spun and slammed into the barriers opposite the pits, almost rolling his car in the process.

Once the yellow flags were cleared with less than 10 minutes to go, the times fell, and Webber posted a 1:46.603 to go fastest. Schumacher stayed 2nd, while Rubens Barrichello was 3rd for Williams. Sergio Perez managed 4th place.

Sebastian Vettel had a troubled session, as his Red Bull was seen pouring smoke when in the pits. He was relegated to 13th place, not going out in the fastest part of the session.

Daniel Ricciardo’s debut drive for HRT went without incident, the Australian finishing last, 9 tenths off Jerome D’Ambrosio, and 1.2 seconds away from his teammate.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:46.603            19
 2.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:47.263  + 0.660   20
 3.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:47.347  + 0.744   23
 4.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:47.422  + 0.819   22
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:47.562  + 0.959   13
 6.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:47.758  + 1.155   23
 7.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:48.161  + 1.558   16
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:48.549  + 1.946   21
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:48.598  + 1.995   19
10.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:48.678  + 2.075   22
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:48.730  + 2.127   18
12.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:48.778  + 2.175   18
13.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:48.794  + 2.191   21
14.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1:48.809  + 2.206   17
15.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:48.841  + 2.238   23
16.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1:48.941  + 2.338   20
17.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1:49.603  + 3.000   15
18.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:50.133  + 3.530   17
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1:50.222  + 3.619   14
20.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault          1:51.119  + 4.516   17
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1:52.470  + 5.867   17
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1:53.143  + 6.540   20
23.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1:53.469  + 6.866   26
24.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth           1:54.334  + 7.731   24

Webber heads Valencia first practice

Mark Webber continued Red Bull’s dominance of 2011 so far, by leading first practice for the European Grand Prix.

The Red Bull was 8 tenths faster than Vitaly Petrov, whose Renault was marginally ahead of Fernando Alonso.

Webber’s teammate Vettel did no low fuel runs, and was 16th. An impressive session for Renault was shown with Nick Heidfeld 5th.

Jaime Alguersuari in 10th headed Daniel Ricciardo in 12th by 2 tenths, as the Australian stood in for Sebastien Buemi.

A dusty and slippery track surface caught Nico Hulkenberg out, sliding under braking at Turn 12, and damaging his Force India’s left rear section. Massa, Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Schumacher and Maldonado all had off-track excursions as the session continued.

A spin by Timo Glock in the final few minutes ruled out any last-gasp improvements from the rest of the field, as his Virgin was beached in the middle of the track.

Karun Chandhok was the only driver not to set a time, as his Lotus was stuck in second gear.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1.40.403 	    22
 2.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1.41.227   0.824   20
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1.41.239   0.836   22
 4.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1.41.510   1.107   23
 5.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1.41.580   1.177   24
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1.41.758   1.355   23
 7.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1.41.926   1.523   14
 8.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1.41.955   1.552   20
 9.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1.42.043   1.640   22
10.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.42.216   1.813   29
11.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1.42.270   1.867   26
12.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1.42.412   2.009   27
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1.42.704   2.301   23
14.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1.42.738   2.335   20
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1.42.841   2.438   28
16.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1.42.941   2.538   21
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1.43.201   2.798   18
18.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1.43.769   3.366    7
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1.44.136   3.733   17
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1.45.026   4.623   17
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1.45.221   4.818   19
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1.45.494   5.091   24
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1.46.926   6.523   27
24.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault         		     2