F1 Nurburgring FP1 Results & Report: Alonso Fastest in 1st Session, Webber, Vettel Top 3


What Happens When It’s Actually Dry

5:42am EST — Fernando Alonso (1:31.981) was the fastest driver at the end of the first practice session for the 2011 German Grand Prix weekend, leading Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, and Lewis Hamilton as the top five. It was a moderately uneventful testing session, cool but dry at the Nurburgring. Sebasiten Buemi provided a bit of drama at the very end, sliding and flying through the dirt and gravel, but ending the session unhurt. Karun Chandhok replaced Jarno Trulli for the weekend alongside Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus. Interestingly, Alonso, Massa, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, and Nico Hulkenberg were not quite legal Thursday night, since their FIA legality patches were screenprinted on instead of embroidered onto their firesuits. That was rectified before they could have been barred from participating in this first practice, though Hulkenberg was in for di Resta at Force India as usual.

Drivers were out straightaway for the start of the ninety minute session, completing installation laps on the dry but cool circuit. Ten minutes into the session, all drivers had done their instal lap, but no one had set a complete lap time. Ferrari neatly summed up the session to that point, “Nothing special to report.”

With about fifteen minutes gone in the session, the biggest incident on track was Chandhok’s mirror falling out in his Lotus, coinciding with his missing the breaking zone and locking up entering a corner. Heidfeld (1:38.313) set the first time nearly twenty minutes into the session. He was soon joined by Perez, over two and a half seconds slower. Minutes later, Alguersuari slotted into second, while Ricciardo went fifth fastest. Times began to come in as Rosberg went second fastest, nearly two tenths slower than Heidfeld. However, Rosberg (1:35.751) was quickly fastest of all by over two seconds.

With the session nearly one third over, Hamilton (1:34.982) was fastest on his first fast lap, but only a tenth quicker than an improved Rosberg. Hamilton led Rosberg, Schumacher, Alguersuari, Kobayashi, Perez, Maldonado, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, and Ricciardo were the only eleven drivers with a time when an hour remained in the session. Notably, neither Red Bull or Ferrari drivers had posted a time, nor had Button.

Webber’s first fast lap put him fourth fastest, while Vettel, then Alonso was down in eleventh a few minutes later. Vettel then moved up to fourth as Webber went second fastest. Times continued to jostle the drivers about in the order as many teams were running a bit more, earlier, than usual with the session dry and rain possible throughout the weekend. Alonso’s second lap was good enough for seventh fastest, nearly eight tenths faster than Button, whose next lap put him fourth fastest. That order would not long remain, as Vettel (1:32.760) went fastest.

At the halfway point, Vettel (1:32.536) led Hamilton, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Petrov, Button, Massa, Schumacher, and Sutil as the top ten. d’Ambrosio was the only driver who had not yet set a time. Pirelli explained, “Alonso is about nine-tenths slower on PZero White than the top runners on PZero Yellow. About what we were expecting.” On the experimental softs, Alonso went second fastest, nearly four hundredths slower than Vettel. Vettel responded, to go precisely four hundredths faster than the Spaniard.

Alonso’s next lap (1:32.037) put him a half second faster than Vettel, with Hamilton, Webber, Massa, Button, Rosberg, Petrov, Achumacher, and Alguersuari rounding out the fastest ten with a third of the session to go. Webber and Massa quickly took third and fourth, respectively, from Hamilton. Webber then stepped up to second fastest just before Alonso dropped his own time to 1:31.981, the only driver yet into the 1:31s for the session. He soon pitted after a four or five lap run on those softer tires.

Schumacher provided the most dramatic moment of the session to that point, going off and sliding through the gravel at Turn 7 after losing the rear, taking a moment to wave at the fans in the grandstands as he continued through the gravel and back onto the track. Most of the field was in the garage with fifteen minutes to go, making adjustments and checking updates for the morning test session. Vettel (on the harder tire) was the first of the front runners back out, joining Sutil, Hulkenberg, Chandhok, and Glock on track.

Alonso’s time still stood at the top of the timesheets with ten minutes to go in the session, as Webber, Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Sutil, Hulkenberg, and Schumacher were the fastest ten. Most drivers were doing the longer, race simulation-type runs as the session wound down, though Kovalainen took a moment to crash through the gravel and across some kerbing at Turn 5, continuing on as he remained seventeenth fastest, nearly four tenths faster than Maldonado.

Buemi had a flying off, after dropping a wheel into the dirt just off the white line on the circuit. While he flew up into the air and bounced multiple times, the Toro Rosso ended the session beached in the gravel and without crashing into any barriers. The order did not much change in the final moments, ending with Alonso’s time on those developmental soft tires the fastest lap of the session, his last lap a hundredth faster than his previous lap on the special softs.

Final Times for FP1, 2011 German Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:31.894 30
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:32.217 +0.323 24
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:32.268 +0.374 27
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:32.681 +0.787 23
5. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:32.996 +1.102 18
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1:33.628 +1.734 22
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:33.787 +1.893 33
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:33.832 +1.938 27
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:33.858 +1.964 26
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:33.863 +1.969 31
11. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:34.094 +2.200 22
12. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:35.115 +3.221 23
13. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:35.371 +3.477 20
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:35.389 +3.495 24
15. Nico Heidfeld Renault 1:35.444 +3.550 22
16. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:36.371 +4.477 22
17. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:36.392 +4.498 29
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:36.842 +4.948 29
19. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:36.882 +4.988 27
20. Narian Karthikeyan HRT 1:38.504 +6.610 22
21. Karun Chandhok Lotus 1:38.765 +6.871 19
22. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1:39.279 +7.385 24
23. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:40.109 +8.215 23
24. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:40.428 +8.534 22
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