Practice 1: Hamilton fastest but gets penalty

Samir Gaur (IND) Jaypee Sports CEO and MD watches Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 head out on to the Buddh International Circuit for the first time at the start of the first practice session.

Lewis Hamilton drives past Samir Gaur (Jaypee Sports CEO and MD) on his way to setting the fastest time in the first ever official F1 practice session in India

Oct.28 (Reuters) McLaren‘s Lewis Hamilton set the practice pace in a hazy first session at India’s new Buddh International Formula One circuit Friday but was shortly thereafter handed a penalty for ignoring yellow flags, capping a morning of stray dogs, quick Red Bulls and fierce national pride.

Karun Chandhok Adrian Sutil

Karun Chandhok queues behind Adrian Sutil's Force India shortly before the start of FP1 at Buddh

On a historic day for motorsport in the world’s second most populous nation, the $450 million facility fired up the country’s long-awaited first grand prix weekend with the colours of the national flag leading the way.

The first car out of the pitlane was the saffron, white and green Force India, driven by Germany’s Adrian Sutil.

It was followed closely by Team Lotus’s Indian reserve Karun Chandhok, the second Force India of Paul di Resta and then Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan in the HRT.

Chandhok, who will not race Sunday, had the honour of setting the first timed lap.

“It’s an emotional moment for all of us,” Force India team principal Vijay Mallya told reporters.

“There was a lot of speculation about whether the track would be ready and the event has had its fair share of controversy after what happened with the Commonwealth Games, but we’re ready. It’s a great track and the drivers love it.”

A large black stray dog appeared (pictures and story here)on the main pit straight, one of the longest in the sport, shortly before the session was due to start.

Another appeared minutes into the session, causing it to be red-flagged for safety reasons for five minutes while the offending canine was rounded up.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.

Sebastian Vettel ended the session second fastest

Hamilton set his fastest lap of one minute 26.836 seconds right at the end of the session to deny the Red Bull pairing of double champion Sebastian Vettel and Australian Mark Webber an immediate one-two on the timesheets.

Vettel was 0.580 slower, with Webber 0.592 off the pace. McLaren’s Jenson Button was fourth fastest.

Both titles have already been decided, with Vettel and Red Bull retaining their crowns, and Sunday’s race will be a simple battle for victory between the usual suspects as well as a fight among mid-table teams for vital points.

Hamilton, sporting a helmet with the image of the late reggae singer Bob Marley on top, looked clearly determined to deny Vettel an 11th win of the season, but the Stewards declared afterwards that he had set his best lap when yellow warning flags were being waved and was handed a three-place grid penalty.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari stopped in the first practice session.

Fernando Alonso gets a lift back to the Buddh pits

Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso had to sit out the last half hour after his car’s engine failed.

The Spaniard parked up, hopped out and sat under a big screen where he could watch replays of his stricken car coming to a halt.

Williams‘ Pastor Maldonado also had engine problems, pulling over with a cloud of smoke erupting from the back of the car before a marshal extinguished any flames.

Many of the drivers’s cars and helmets carried the logos and numbers of British racer Dan Wheldon and Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, who both died in accidents since the previous Korean Grand Prix.

Friday, 28 October – Practice 1

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.836 22
2 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:27.416 0.580 23
3 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:27.428 0.592 27
4 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.394 1.558 23
5 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:28.531 1.695 23
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.542 1.706 29
7 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:28.644 1.808 22
8 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:28.705 1.869 23
9 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:29.219 2.383 24
10 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:29.355 2.519 29
11 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:29.700 2.864 24
12 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:29.705 2.869 22
13 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1:29.799 2.963 20
14 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:30.132 3.296 25
15 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:30.367 3.531 21
16 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:30.566 3.730 19
17 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:30.669 3.833 22
18 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:30.818 3.982 22
19 20 Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1:32.487 5.651 24
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:32.771 5.935 24
21 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:33.928 7.092 27
22 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:34.113 7.277 30
23 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:35.796 8.960 19
24 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.899 9.063 4