Turkish GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Wet weather complicates Turkey for F1 teams

Fernando Alonso, Turkish GP 2011

Fernando Alonso, Turkish GP 2011 

 © The Cahier Archive

With the opening session of free practice at the Turkish GP wet, teams face an even more difficult weekend, with no opportunity to evaluate the crucial Pirelli tyre wear rates or to assess upgrades made in the effort to peg back the early season advantage enjoyed by Red Bull Racing, in qualifying trim at least.

With wet weather forecast for the whole opening day at Istanbul Park, it means that anticipated drier conditions on Saturday morning will make the third session of free practice crucial and will give the teams just an hour of effective running to arrive at car set-up and race tactics.

McLaren has brought a new rear wing, exhaust parts, brake ducts and side pod tweaks to Istanbul but did precious little running, with Lewis Hamilton not even completing an installation lap when he encountered a clutch problem leaving the garage at the very end of the session.

Ferrari, trying to get to the root of on track aero performance failing to correlate with wind tunnel figures, had Felipe Massa back-to back a different front wing, which included a titanium stay between the small cascade wings and the main plane and a camera, presumably so they could evaluate flex characteristics. As the teams mixed intermediate and wet weather running, it was Fernando Alonso (1:38.670) who, for the record, topped the largely meaningless time sheet.

The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (1:40.072) and Schumacher (1:40.330) were second and third, ahead of Nick Heidfeld (1:40.338) and Vitaly Petrov (1:40.401) in the Renaults. Kamui Kobayashi (1:40.421) finished the session sixth fastest, from Massa’s Ferrari (1:40.697), Daniel Ricciardo (1:41.094), substituting for Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso team mate Sebastian Buemi (1:41.178), and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg (1:41.347).

Dips and attendant standing water at Turn 2 and 11 saw regular aquaplaning and off track excursions, but the most spectacular incident was championship leader Sebastian Vettel badly damaged the Red Bull when he ran wide exiting Turn 8, spun across the road and into the barrier, without personal harm.


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