Force India’s Adrian Sutil tops first German GP practice

By Gareth Llewellyn
lewis hamilton

lewis hamilton

Force India’s Adrian Sutil topped a rain-affected free practice session for the German Grand Prix as championship leader Lewis Hamilton smashed into the barriers at Hockenheim.

Heavy rain and a cool track greeted the drivers as the pit lights turned green for the first practice session, forcing drivers to use Bridgestone’s extreme wet tyres as they splashed their way through standing water on the circuit.

Hamilton was lying seventh as he attempted another flying run, but lost control at turn three and smashed into the barriers, ending his practice with about 20 minutes remaining.

He snapped the front wing and also caused damage to the rear leaving McLaren mechanics with a job to repair the damage ahead of the second session later today.

It was a mixed day for the big runners as Ferrari’s championship contender Fernando Alonso could only managed 19th quickest, while Michael Schumacher could only manage 23rd quickest—an incredible five seconds slower than team-mate Nico Rosberg—after a number of problems.

Hamilton and Schumacher were not the only drivers to go off, as Felipe Massa also lost it in turn three. Renault’s Robert Kubica also lost control, as did Massa again, moments later, while Williams’ Rubens Barrichello also went off without causing any real damage.

The Mercedes engine was clearly working well this morning as Sutil put in the quickest time of 1 minute 25:701 ahead of Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa, while McLaren’s Jenson Button produced a strong late finish to take third quickest.

Red Bull also had a disappointing first session as local boy Sebastian Vettel could only manage 11th quickest, with his team-mate Mark Webber down in 14th.

The top 10 was dominated by the “smaller” teams as Rubens Barrichello lapped fourth quickest for Williams ahead of Renault’s No.2 driver Vitaly Petrov. Nico Rosberg salvaged some pride for Mercedes to take sixth quickest with a time of 1:27:448 ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sébastien Buemi.

Nico Hülkenberg took eighth quickest as both Williams made it into the top 10, with the second Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi taking ninth ahead of Sauber’s Pedro De La Rosa.

This morning’s practice session will be useful data for the driver ahead of a possibly wet qualifying session on Saturday.

Although the race is expected to be run under dry conditions, this is Hockenheim: wet weather can appear from nowhere, fast.

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