Alonso Leads Opening Practice Session

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso got the ball rolling for Ferrari as he topped the timesheets in the opening practice session of 2014. The Spaniard set a fast lap relatively early on and kept his position on top of the table as the other drivers focused on getting some solid laps done. The main talking lies with Lewis Hamilton and Lotus, both of whom failed to do just that.

Lewis Hamilton was the cause of the first yellow flag of the season, stopping his slightly smoking Mercedes just after the Turn 10 chicane after just four minutes. It was later found that an oil pressure sensor alarm turned the engine off as a precaution and Hamilton, the pre-season title favourite, failed to restart the engine. His one lap was enough to place him nineteenth of twenty-two after the hour and a half.

Lotus’ problems came to light in the other end of the session; with ten minutes to go Pastor Maldonado was finally suited and booted and emerged on track. However, after passing turn 10 his cockpit started smoking and he lost power. Remarkably he made it back to the pitlane, including an off-road adventure between turns 13 and 14, and this ended Lotus’ FP1 running. Romain Grosjean was limited to the pitlane and didn’t even sit in the cockpit, as he sat at the back of the garage staring longingly at the screens.

Due to Mercedes’ dominance in pre-season testing, it was surprising to see Ferrari take the top spot. Alonso’s 1.31.840 was about six-tenths clear of McLaren’s Jenson Button, who was also impressive to finish that high up. Williams strengthened their promising position when Valtteri Bottas took third ahead of Felipe Massa. It’s a promising sign for the team who will be aiming for a double podium this Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first of the Red Bull’s to brace the track at his home Grand Prix and he ended the session a respectable fifth. His team-mate stayed put until much longer, due to the fact that Red Bull still had the car in pieces when the green light came on at the start of the session. Vettel’s running was enough to finish seventh and raise questions as to the real pace of the defending World Champion, whose pre-season test predicted a much lower placing in Australia.

Nico Rosberg, whose pre-season track time spelled the opposite, was caught between the Red Bulls in sixth. His running was smooth and he completed 17 laps, ending the session eight-tenths behind Alonso. McLaren’s rookie Kevin Magnussen was impressive on his debut – merely half a second down on his far more experienced team-mate. He finished the session eighth, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter ending the session in the gravel after out-braking himself.

The Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were eleventh and twelfth for the Silverstone based outfit who looked stronger during pre-season running. They’ll be happy, at least, that they had a faultless session and have both cars for FP2. Daniil Kvyat cut the grass at turn 1 during a particularly violent trip off-track when he carried too much speed into the first corner, mere seconds before his team-mate and Kimi Raikkonen followed him off. His first F1 practice session ended with him thirteenth, ahead of Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil.

Jules Bianchi narrowly avoided a spin between turns 13 and 14 while team-mate Max Chilton clattered into a trolley in the Marussia garage when he botched his pit-entry. Luckily nobody was injured. Next door at Caterham, neither man had running as Marcus Ericsson suffered an electrical problem and  a fuel issue was discovered on Kamui Kobayashi’s car.

Free Practice 1 standings:

  1. Fernando Alonso
  2. Jenson Button
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Felipe Massa
  5. Daniel Ricciardo
  6. Nico Rosberg
  7. Sebastian Vettel
  8. Kevin Magnussen
  9. Kimi Raikkonen
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne
  11. Nico Hulkenberg
  12. Sergio Perez
  13. Daniil Kvyat
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Adrian Sutil
  16. Jules Bianchi
  17. Max Chilton
  18. Marcus Ericsson
  19. Lewis Hamilton
  20. Kamui Kobayashi
  21. Pastor Maldonado
  22. Romain Grosjean

Image courtesy Scuderia Ferrari. 

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One response to “Alonso Leads Opening Practice Session

  1. Pingback: Hamilton Recovers From Missed Running To Lead Mercedes 1-2 In Second Practice | Ben Sweeney's F1 Blog

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