Practice 1: Button sets early pace as McLaren show promise

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday 20 July 2012.

Jenson Button was fastest in his McLaren MP4-27 in the first free practice session at Hockenheim

Jul.20 (GP247) Jenson Button gave McLaren a much needed boost to take top spot on the timing sheets, ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, at the end of the first free practice session of the German Grand Prix weekend at Hockenheim.

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F2012 German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday 20 July 2012The Woking squad need a reversal of fortune to put behind them a couple of below par race weekends, and reaffirm their championship ambitions. They have started the weekend in Germany in the best way possible, but the big question is: will they be able to sustain the pace?

Their record so far this has been pretty similar, where they have shown early pace but failed to deliver when it mattered – with the exception of Australia and Canada.

Button wasted no time getting into the groove and was first of the drivers to set a meaningful time, and with heavy clouds starting to drop their load on certain sectors of the track he popped a 1 minute 16.595 seconds lap which was way quicker than anyone out on track at that time and remained the best time of the morning. Button went on to notch up 27 laps in the 90 minutes.

Hamilton, in contrast, set his best time during a flurry of quick laps right at the very end of the session and ended 0.498 seconds down on his teammate.

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03. Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday 20 July 2012.Best of the rest was Fernando Alonso in the flo-viz covered Ferrari F2012, the world championship leader looking feisty and aggressive in Germany, and third best time was his reward. Felipe Massa was eighth best.

Local hero Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest in the Mercedes, with teammate Nico Rosberg seventh on the timing screens when the session ended.

Sergio Perez and Sauber were again showing handy pace, proving that the C31 is a true all-rounder and capable of being the surprise package just about anywhere.  The Mexican was fifth fastest, with Kamui Kobayashi 11th on the timing sheets.

Nico Hulkenberg would have been pleased that the Force India VJM05 appears well suited to the nuances of his home track, and he made the most of it by finishing the session sixth fastest. Teammate Paul di Resta watched proceedings from the pit garage as reserve driver Jules Bianchi was on cockpit duty, he ended the morning 16th fastest.

The Williams 2012 repair bill continues to mount, but this time it did not involve Pastor Maldonado who ended the session ninth fastest, as reserve driver Valterri Bottas lost the back end of the Williams FW34, under breaking into the Sachs Curve, and planted Bruno Senna’s race car in the wall.

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW34 Third Driver span off in in the first practice session. Formula One World Championship, Rd10, German Grand Prix, Practice, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday 20 July 2012.Not big damage but enough to have the young Finn apologising sheepishly over the radio, “OK, sorry. I don’t know what happened.” Prior to that Bottas had set the 13th best time.

Rounding out the top ten was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, with Kimi Raikkonen down in 15th having spent the session evaluating a barrage of visible and not so visible updates on the E20.

Well out of the top ten were the Red Bull pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, 12th and 20th respectively who were clearly oblivious to setting any hot lap times and focused on their updates for the weekend at hand.

The first session of the weekend took place under ominous clouds, with enough drizzle falling to cause a few heart stopping moments out on track. There were several off track excursions, big oversteer moments and loads of understeer, but nothing serious apart from Bottas’ close encounter.

Pirelli had a new experimental hard tyre being tried by the field for the first time which rendered first practice a de facto test session. This and the rain combined to render the session very difficult to evaluate form.

German Grand Prix Free Practice 1 – Friday, 20 July 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.595 27
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.093 0.498 22
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:17.370 0.775 21
4 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:17.382 0.787 20
5 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:17.413 0.818 28
6 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:17.599 1.004 17
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:17.915 1.320 27
8 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:17.995 1.400 22
9 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:18.020 1.425 20
10 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:18.130 1.535 21
11 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:18.226 1.631 22
12 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:18.339 1.744 21
13 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:18.422 1.827 28
14 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:18.709 2.114 30
15 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:18.831 2.236 14
16 11 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1:18.972 2.377 21
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:19.039 2.444 34
18 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:19.674 3.079 24
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:19.963 3.368 24
20 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:20.122 3.527 27
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:20.169 3.574 20
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:20.539 3.944 18
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:21.138 4.543 24
24 23 Dani Clos HRT-Cosworth 1:21.740 5.145 27
  • muddles

    Editor, u mean Lewis Hamilton, not Lewis Button. LOL

  • Editor

    thanks mate we got that muddled up ;-)

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    Looks like Ferrari brought back the wing cover again… I thought they got rid of it because it makes their car slow?

  • freakytrends

    Mclaren looks good on practice & bad on qualifying & worst on race day :P