Indian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Vettel tops first Indian practice
Sebastian Vettel (1:27.619) kept up the momentum that has seen him win the last three grands prix with fastest time in the first session of free practice for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, round 17 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
The Red Bull RB8 seems to have made a performance step over recent races and should be strong again around the Buddh International Circuit, which has some quick, flowing turns amid the 5.125km layout.
On the evidence of first practice though, competition will be tight. Lewis Hamilton looked capable of a time on a par with Vettel's but aborted a lap after setting fastest sector one time and a personal best in sector two. That left it to team mate Jenson Button (1:27.929) to set the second fastest time of the 90 minutes, ahead of Fernando Alonso (1:28.044) and Hamilton (1:28.046).
Ferrari was busy back-to-backing front and rear wings as they attempt to make aero advances, while Mark Webber (1:28.175) was in close touch in the second Red Bull.
The Australian has made it clear that while he is still in with a mathematical chance of the championship, he will not be playing any supporting role behind Vettel's bid for a hat-trick of world titles.
Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:28.447) finished the session sixth quickest, split from team mate Michael Schumacher (1:28.993) by Felipe Massa with the second Ferrari (1:28.542).
After a double points scoring finish from Toro Rosso in Korea, Daniel Ricciardo continued the small Italian team's promising form with ninth best lap (1:29.204), half a second clear of another impressive showing from Williams reserve driver Valterri Bottas (1:29.691).
At Sauber, Sergio Perez is suffering from a heavy cold and stepped down for the opening session, allowing Esteban Gutierrez to have his first official practice session for the team. The Mexican is hotly tipped for a 2013 race seat to replace the departing Perez. He lapped in 1m31.212s, which compared with regular driver Kamui Kobayashi's 1m29.802s.