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Malaysian GP 2013

MARCH 22, 2013

Practice 1 Report - Webber Hot In Malaysia

Mark Webber, Malaysian GP 2013
© The Cahier Archive

Red Bull's Mark Webber set the pace in the opening round of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix with a lap time of 1:36.935. Kimi Raikkonen went second quickest in his Lotus with a time of 1:37.003 and Sebastian Vettel was third with a 1:37.104 in his Red Bull.

The first driver out on the track on the hot and steamy Friday morning was Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) followed by his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne and Marussia driver Charles Pic.

The weather forecast is the same for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. No rain in the morning. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. High temperature of 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius), and no rain at night.

It was degrees 86 Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) with the humidity at 57 percent when the session got underway at 10 a.m. The track temperature was 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) and it soon moved up a couple more degrees. Compare that to winter testing in Spain where the track temps were below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius.)

Pirelli's medium and hard compounds are the tires for the weekend compared to Australia where the drivers used the super-soft and medium slicks. And everybody was using the orange-sidewall hard tire for their first laps around the Malaysia circuit.

All the drivers were soon back in the pits to have their cars checked over after the installation laps.

After 20 minutes of the 90 minute session most drivers had completed just one lap and five of them had done two laps. Nobody was in a hurry to go out on the green track, and everybody was waiting for someone else to do some laps and put some rubber down on the racing line.

Then, 21 minutes into the session, Jules Bianchi steered his Marussia out of pit lane and on to the wide track only to pit at the end of the lap.

Finally, after 30 minutes had ticked by, some of the drivers started to get strapped into their cars. Max Chilton (Marussia) headed out and went screaming by the pits instead of coming in. He set the first lap time of the session at 1:42.513. Sergio Perez (McLaren) was next out after doing a practice start at pit exit. Perez quickly clipped the fastest lap time down to 1:39.653 and then a 1:38.830.

Halfway through the session things began to get serious, and nearly half of the 22 drivers were pounding around the track. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) went fastest with a 1:38.113. The Romain Grosjean clocked a 1:37.915 in his Lotus, and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) beat that with q 1:37.588. Next Mark Webber turned a 1:37.075 in his Red Bull.

Then, 53 minutes into the session, Webber went even quicker with a 1:36.935. His teammate Sebastian Vettel responded with a 1:37.104. Meanwhile, with 30 minutes remaining, Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen finally headed out after the KERS had been repaired on his Lotus. And Hamilton had a quick spin in his Mercedes after coming up fast on Fernando Alonso who had slowed after sliding off the track at Turn 1 in his Ferrari.

With 26 minutes remaining, Raikkonen went second quickest with a 1:37.003.

By now most drivers and teams were doing long runs with more fuel on board the cars to scope out how many laps the hard tire would last and what its degradation levels were, so the lap times for many drivers eased back in the 1:42 to 1:43 range.

With less than 10 minutes to go, the action was thick out on the track with 18 cars out there.

Hamilton radioed the Mercedes team that his rear tires were destroyed after 16 laps.

The top 10 at the end of the session were:

Mark Webber 1:36.935

Kimi Raikkonen 1:37.003

Sebastian Vettel 1:37.104

Fernando Alonso 1:37.319

Nico Rosberg 1:37.588

Adrian Sutil 1:37.769

Felipe Massa 1:37.771

Paul di Resta 1:37.773

Lewis Hamilton 1:37.840

Romain Grosjean 1:37.915