Practice sessions summarised

As it turns out, the FIA overall problem only affected the drivers of Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India. But they have got their problems sorted and were driving well this morning. There were also practice sessions for F2, GP2 and GP3 today. A summary follows after the jump.

F2: Diminished field for Brands Hatch
Only 20 drivers plus the test car took to the track for the first practice session at Brands Hatch this morning. Both Theobald brothers were missing, as were Natalia Kowalska (who has also missed the last two rounds) and Will Bratt. Bratt had announced earlier on Twitter that he might not be able to make the race. Driving for Team Silverlining is German Tobias Hegewald, who has participated in every round so far.
Jordan King remains in the series, though this is his last round in 2011 with the Formula Renault UK season about to restart after the ITV break for the Tour de France. Hopefully the seventeen-year-old will be able to use his F2 experience to good measure when he returns for Manor Motorsport.
In the first practice session this morning, the fastest driver was Mirko Bortolotti, the championship leader. Clarke and Hegewald went second and third. It’s also been a good day for the Russian driver Max Snegirev, who has only finished once in the points. He was fourth fastest. The three remaining British drivers are Brundle (sixth), King (seventh) and an improving James Cole in tenth. Zanella was down in 18th.

GP3: Carlin struggle but Arden shine on
Carlin’s tricky GP3 season continued today in the first practice of the fifth round. Their best driver was Conor Daly in 21st, with Callum MacLeod and Leo Cordeiro sitting at the bottom of the timing screens. Though Carlin are struggling this year, last year they finished fifth. Surely a return to form is on the table soon for the team that dominates Formula Renault 3.5 and British F3.
Lewis Williamson, who won last weekend, topped the session for Arden. It was a 0.35s gap to Antonio Felix da Costa, who was racing well in British F3 last weekend. Mitch Evans finished fourth, and series leader Alex Sims was seventh. Nico Muller, the other winner at Silverstone, came 11th while the first series leader Nigel Melker was 15th. However, this is just a practice session. Arden’s third driver Simon Trummer had more problems, and was in 24th.
Pedro Nunes only got in four laps – the least of any driver – but came 22nd overall.

GP2: Unlucky for Valsecchi while Grosjean leaves them all trailing
Romain Grosjean continues his massive domination of the GP2 season. He topped the practice session by nearly eight tenths of a second. Dani Clos came second for Racing Engineering, who have been having a good season, and Jules Bianchi came third. Luca Filippi came fourth in his new Coloni car, and Charles Pic fifth. Jolyon Palmer showed he hadn’t put his F2 practice sessions to waste by coming in 8th, with Alvaro Parente 10th for Carlin behind Stefano Coletti. And Esteban Gutierrez is continuing to improve with the sixth-fastest time. Swiss driver Fabio Leimer hasn’t scored any points outside his race-winning weekend at Barcelona, but he was seventh-fastest.
Sadly, it wasn’t all good. Davide Valsecchi spun and went into the wall in his freshly-painted green and yellow AirAsia car. Giedo van der Garde had mechanical problems and finished 14th after 7 laps. Adam Carroll finished 22nd. Hopefully he will improve in qualifying this afternoon as he gets used to the 2011 GP2 car.

F1: A tame session, then Buemi gets his wings
At first, it seemed like it was going to be the usual Red Bull dominance. But then Alonso went faster than Webber and Vettel by almost four tenths – yes, Webber was the faster of the two. Massa came in fourth. It seems that Ferrari’s Silverstone pace was not just a result of the changed engine rules.
Kovalainen did well for Team Lotus, and finished seventeenth with close times to those ahead and behind him – the Saubers. Meanwhile, Karun Chandhok faced traffic and finished slower than compatriot Narian Karthikeyan. Karthikeyan was standing in for Liuzzi for FP1. Right at the end of the session, Buemi clipped the side of the track at turn five and went off into the gravel, catching a little air time as he did so. Perhaps he was trying to advertise his product.
Buemi wasn’t the only driver to go off, but he was the only one to stop on track. Schumacher, Kovalainen, Perez and others all took their turns. But nothing really enthralling happened.

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