F1 Turkey FP1 Results & Report: Alonso Fastest In the Rain While Vettel Causes Work for Red Bull

What Happens When It’s the Damp That Catches One Out

4:47am EST — Fernando Alonso was fastest overall in the wet and slipery conditions for the first practice session of the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix weekend. He led Noci Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld, and Vitaly Petrov as the fastest five in a session that saw many slides, spins, and shorts-changing moments, and a red flag. Sebastian Vettel, who ended the session seventeenth fastest, caused the session’s stoppage after catching the slippery edge of a kerb and possibly a bit of grass in Turn 8, heavily damaging the right suspension of his Red Bull.

Teammate Mark Webber was only eleventh fastest while rival McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were at the bottom of the timesheets. Button barely made it out of pit lane in the final moments for a single timed lap, only to be foiled by the practice starts at the line and unable to set a decent time. Hamilton was out of the garage but not the pit lane, with a clutch issue keeping him behind the line as the session ended. Maldonado was the only other driver with damage, smacking his right rear after an extended spin at the end of practice.

Friday morning was damp and cool for the start of the first practice session, as rain began to fall just before the session began. di Resta was the first driver out, just after the hour and a half session began, flinging a trail of water behind him in the wet session. No DRS could be used with the track declared wet. Karthikeyan was soon sitting on the side of the track, unable to complete even his installation lap. Ten minutes into the session, only Button, Hamilton, Petrov, and Kobayashi had yet to complete an installation lap.

Quickly, FP1 turned into a contest of who could sit in the garage longest, as the teams kept their cars safe in the garage in the lightly falling rain. Though no one had a particular amout of running on the Pirellis in the wet, no one seemed particularly keen on gaining any. Red Bull, however, spoke on the radio to say that they think they solved their KERS issue, and settings simply needed to be changed.

Twenty minutes into the session and Kobayashi had done a second lap, with Hamilton doing the same soon thereafter. Local weather reports suggested that the rain would continue until around ten minutes remained in the session. Even as D’Ambrosio, Buemi, Ricciardo, and Perez began laps, the most interesting thing at the circuit was a thermal image suggesting that McLaren boys are losing a lot of heat in the thigh area.

Buemi was first to set a fast lap time, nearly a half hour into the session, with a 1:41.632. D’Ambrosio set the first time, but was immediately eclipsed by the Toro Rosso driver, who soon bettered his own time to 1:41.306. Glock also set a time, nearly ten and a half seconds slower than Buemi’s. With the session one-third gone, Buemi led Ricciardo, D’Ambrosio, and Glock as the only drivers with a time. All drivers had completed at least on installation lap.

Soon, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, and Alonso split the early time-setters, with Alonso soon going fastest of all with a time of 1:40.897. With his wet tires going away just a couple of laps into his run, the team told Alonso to do a “gentle” in lap and return to the garage. Rosberg bettered Alonso’s time y eight tenths to go fastest overall. Schumacher soon entered the track, leaving Rosberg back in the Mercedes garage.

At the halfway point, di Resta, Liuzzi, D’Ambrosio, Schumacher, Heidfeld, and Kobayashi were the only drivers actually driving, with di Resta having something of a moment at Turn 10 in the wet conditions. Rosberg led Alonso, Buemi, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Kobayashi, di Resta, Liuzzi, D’Ambrosio, and Glock as the fastest ten and only drivers to set times to that point. Kobayashi was impressively quick in the Sauber, going second fastest on his next lap, only to have Heidfeld take the position away as the drivers got down to business in the continuing rain. Petrov next slotted into third as more drivers began posting times.

Webber was tenth fastest on his first fast lap, while Schumacher was sixth. Alonso, on the inters instead of full wets, was quickest again, by nearly a second and a half, with a lap time of 1:38.670 on his next run. As the Spaniard returned to the garage, teammate Massa left it on the full wet tires. Meanwhile, Schumacher joined the hordes having an off and making use of the wide runoff area at Turn 11, as did Vettel a few minutes later.

With a half hour to go, Alonso led Rosberg, Heidfeld, Petrov, Kobayashi, Schumacher, Massa, Buemi, Hulkenberg, and Ricciardo as the fastest ten. Webber was eleventh while Vettel was fourteenth fastest. Soon, though, the German’s session would be at an end, after an impact with the barriers out of Turn 8. He appeared uninjured, though his Red Bull would require extensive repairs after Vettel looked to be too far over the kerb and possibly caught a right tire on the grass, slinging him across the track and into the Armco. He informed the team on the radio that he was sorry, that he caught a little bit too much kerb, and “there was nothing I could have done.” The session was red flagged, with bits of car, mud, and grass strewn across the track. Since it is a practice session, the clock continued to tick time away. At the time of the stoppage, Trulli, Karthikeyan, Maldonado, Perez, Chandhok, Barrichello, and notably Button and Hamilton had yet to set a time or spend more than a lap on the track. Only Perez had been out for eight laps without setting a time.

The session restarted with seventeen minutes remaining. With Alonso doing some areo testing, Schumacher moved up to third fastest. With ten minutes left in the still wet session, Alonso still led Rosberg, with Schumacher, Heidfeld, and Petrov the fastest five. Webber, still eleventh fastest, was out of his car and watching the work on Vettel’s “Kinky Kylie” with a solemn expression. Just down the pit lane, neither McLaren driver had yet done more than one installation lap. Button looked jovial in the garage with the engineers, whilst Hamilton simply looked cold.

The times and order remained essentially the same as the rain fell a bit more heavily, with five minutes to go. The track became more crowded with well over half the drivers posting laps, though luckily not near Maldonado as he had a huge slide, nor di Resta who spun in the middle of the track. The conditions became more and more treacherous with moments left, as Schumacher also had another slide after touching wet kerb. He made ample use of the paved runoff area. McLaren attempted to get both drivers out for a single lap, but Hamilton did not leave the pit lane before the session ended. Button did, though he was unable to end the session with a decent time as practice started began at the line. He seemed unperturbed, playing a bit of football (soccer) with Rosberg after the session.

Final Times for FP1, Turkish Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.670 13
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:40.072 +1.402 14
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:40.132 +1.462 18
4. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:40.338 +1.668 9
5. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:40.401 +1.731 10
6. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:40.421 +1.751 16
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:40.697 +2.027 14
8. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:41.094 +2.424 18
9. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:41.178 +2.508 22
10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.347 +2.677 16
11. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:42.564 +3.894 5
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:42.597 +3.927 7
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1:43.525 +4.855 11
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:43.913 +5.243 5
15. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:43.986 +5.316 6
16. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:44.787 +6.117 20
17. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:44.954 +6.284 4
18. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:45.183 +6.513 15
19. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:45.237 +6.567 11
20. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:48.461 +9.791 8
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus 1:51.676 +13.006 6
22. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:55.791 +17.121 13
23. Jenson Button McLaren 2:00.666 +21.996 34
Lewis Hamilton McLaren N/T N/T 1

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