Two practice sessions today. FP1 was horribly wet, and we got to see the Pirelli wet and intermediate tyres. But nobody did a lot of running, although Buemi completed 22 laps. Sebastian Vettel caused himself a world of problems coming out of turn 8, as he went too far over the kerb and slid on the turf, aquaplaning on his intermediate tyres and smashing into the wall. The front of his car was completely destroyed, but fortunately he was alright. However, his car would take a long time to repair, leaving it inoperable for FP2.
In the rain, there was no telling how well any driver was really doing as Alonso set the fastest time. But a dry FP2 provided a clearer picture. Mercedes did really well, but Williams suffered from more reliability problems. Lotus managed to skirmish with the bottom of the midfield, and for a while it looked like HRT would be faster than Virgin. Jenson Button went fastest, followed by Rosberg, Hamilton and Schumacher. Webber was P5, and Massa P6 ahead of Alonso who had a few car troubles of his own. Again Petrov managed to beat Heidfeld and went P7, while di Resta, Perez and Sutil made up the remainder of the top 10.
After the morning practice, it was an accident-filled qualifying session. Three red flags interrupted the action caused by Davide Valsecchi (a temporary stop but he was able to keep going), Mikhail Aleshin (into the gravel) and Michael Herck (into a barrier). Pole position was taken by DAMS’s Romain Grosjean, with Jules Bianchi for Lotus ART only managing P4. But newbies Team AirAsia did well in their main series debut, with P6 and P8. Ocean’s Luca Fillipi surprised by taking P3.
At the other end of the table, Esteban Gutierrez only managed P24 after a troubled morning practice when he’d copied Vettel’s move after turn 8. Post-qualifying, Aleshin was ruled out of the race because of injury, which is especially disappointing because of his late announcement about joining Carlin in Turkey. Davide Valsecchi has been given a 10-place grid penalty for driving backwards, because he rolled backwards on the hill when other cars were streaming towards him. This promotes Christian Vietoris to 8th.
Two practice sessions today for the junior league, with qualifying to come tomorrow. In the morning it was Finn Valtteri Bottas who set the fastest time in the wet conditions for Lotus ART. But there was a surprise for second and third with a pair of Mucke Motorsport drivers coming P2 and P3 including rookie Luciano Bacheta (my favourite). American rookie Gabby Chaves, who has done well in testing, came P4, and then Arden’s Mitch Evans in 5th. Considering Arden and Mucke are the bottom two teams this year, it’s a good start for them.
In the dry afternoon session, everything was rather disjointed as a red flag cut out a large proportion of running time. Mitch Evans remained high on the timesheets by finishing P3, with Mucke’s Nigel Melker P1 having taken the P2 earlier. But Luciano Bacheta was back down at the other end of the grid, as expected for a rookie on an unfamiliar track in the dry.
The weather forecast has improved, and it looks like we might be seeing a dry race after all. But it’s changeable, so who knows? Tomorrow we have GP3’s qualifying and first race, GP2’s first race, and Formula One’s practice and qualifying.