It was a very disappointing start for Karun Chandhok – substituting for Jarno Trulli – who slid off the track in the Lotus, smashing up the front and right of the car as well as puncturing the right rear tyre in the second corner of his first lap. Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were also subbing for Paul di Resta and Jaime Alguersuari respectively.
For the first half-hour it was fairly quiet, and then the times started to come in. Felipe Massa set the first time, then immediately went sliding into the gravel. It must take absolutely ages to get that gravel laid out before the GP. The good news was that McLaren seemed to be setting similar times to Red Bull, so their reverting to a simpler exhaust must be working.
The other surprise was just how close the two lines were for the DRS. Situated just before the final turn, at the entrance to the pit lane, one second isn’t very far at all between two cars, and at that size of gap you could see how an overtaking opportunity would present itself normally, and how the DRS might make a difference.
No major surprises here, though there were a few spots of rain. At the end of the session, for the final half-hour, the cars were in race mode. This confused the drivers initially, since they were now only able to activate the DRS when they were within the right distance and at the right location. Though we saw Fernando Alonso activate the wing, he was unable to pass Jaime Alguersuari due to the wet track. This led to what for me was a discovery in the regulations: if any car is on intermediate or wet tyres, the DRS is disabled. This didn’t last for a massive amount of time.
The fastest team in both sessions was McLaren, who had a 1-2 in FP2 though Red Bull had a 1-2 in FP1. Both times Alonso was third-fastest. HRT ran for one lap at the end of FP2, fortunately preventing me from having to change my logo. By far the slowest of the teams who had set laps were the two Virgins, both times being outside of the required 107% behind the leader. The Lotuses managed to get inside the time by about a second, though they were still some way off the pace. The Renaults failed to stun as they’d hoped, but the Sauber and Toro Rosso drivers did well in both sessions. It seems that this time around their pace in testing wasn’t bluffing. For full times go to Formula1.com or Autosport or ESPN or anywhere else that has them.