• German Grand Prix - FP1

Button and Hamilton lead the way in first practice

ESPN Staff
July 20, 2012
Jenson Button set the pace at Hockenheim in FP1 © Sutton Images
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Jenson Button set the pace on the first morning of practice at the German Grand Prix as the updated McLaren topped the timesheets at Hockenheim.

The session was interrupted several times by brief rain showers, but just about stayed dry enough to allow drivers to complete their usual Friday morning mileage. Button set his fastest lap early in the session on medium tyres while his rivals mostly worked on the extra set of experimental hard tyres Pirelli supplied for Friday practice.

Button's time of 1:16.595 was set on his final timed lap of a medium-length run and remained at the top of the timing screens for the rest of the session. Lewis Hamilton got within 0.5s by the end of the session but never looked like threatening his team-mate. Both McLarens featured a significant upgrade to the rear of the car as well as mechanical updates that the team is hoping will put it back in the fight for race wins this weekend.

Fernando Alonso was third fastest, 0.775s off Button, and ahead of Michael Schumacher in fourth. But the fact that neither Red Bull featured in the top ten (Sebastian Vettel was 12th and Mark Webber 20th) suggests that the order is not completely representative of what is to come later in the weekend. Sergio Perez was fifth fastest in the Sauber ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, who rounded out the top ten.

The Lotus garage was the centre of attention for much of the session as its mechanics attempted to stop TV cameras getting a glimpse of Kimi Raikkonen's updated E20. The car features two new air inlets on the roll hoop, which appear to be feeding air towards the rear of the car. The main theory from the circuit is that Lotus is running some kind of double DRS similar, although not identical, to Mercedes'. Raikkonen completed a series of installation laps before going 15th fastest on his first timed lap at the end of the session. His team-mate Grosjean was not running the new system.

Despite the brief showers the drivers managed to keep their cars out of the barriers for the majority of the session, with the only major slip up coming at the end when Valtteri Bottas hit the barriers at the Sachs corner. As part of his test driver contract Bottas was standing in for Bruno Senna during FP1 but the damage to the rear of the car should be fixed in time for FP2.