Indian Grand Prix 2011: Ferrari’s Massa sets pace
Ferrari's Felipe Massa topped the timesheets in practice for Sunday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was quickest on the first day of practice at the new Buddh International Circuit ahead of Sunday’s inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
The Brazilian set the fastest time of 1m25.706secs, just 0.088s ahead of world champion Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was third on an eventful day at the Greater Noida track.
“It’s always nice to be in first place at the end of a day’s work, however we know that Friday’s results are all relative,” Massa said.
“Sure, it would be nice to move through the weekend in the same position, but that will be very difficult to achieve. Today, we concentrated on finding the best set-up on the car and on tyre behaviour on this new circuit.
“I like the track, it is very interesting and there are corners where driving skill can make the difference. In some places the actual track surface is very wide and so it will therefore be possible to take various different lines in the race, which could make overtaking easier.
“The car seems competitive, but we must wait and see what McLaren and Red Bull can do tomorrow, as they are still very strong.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was fourth quickest in the second session, over seven tenths down on Massa’s mark having topped the times in the first session – but the Briton’s run-ins with race stewards continued as he was handed a three-place grid penalty for ignoring double waved yellow flags in the morning session.
Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was fifth quickest ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, who was a second down on Massa as he looks to trump Webber in the race for second in the drivers’ championship.
Aerodynamic upgrades helped Force India get both cars into the top 10 at their home race, with Adrian Sutil seventh and Paul di Resta half a second slower in ninth, either side of Bruno Senna’s time in the Renault. Toro Rosso’s SÃ©bastien Buemi rounded out the top 10.
Mercedes focused on long fuel runs in the second session, leaving both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg comfortably outside the top 10, behind both Team Lotus cars – but their first session pace proved they should make it to Saturday’s Q3 showdown.
Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan”“back in the HRT cockpit for his home race after being dropped earlier in the season”“was slowest around the 3.19m circuit, seven seconds off Massa’s time, while Team Lotus gave a run in the morning session to Formula 1’s other Indian driver Karun Chandhok, who finished 19th quickest.
Sauber rookie Sergio PÃ©rez was also handed a three-place grid penalty for the same infringement as Hamilton as marshals attended to a stricken Williams.