• British Grand Prix - FP1

Webber tops wet first practice

ESPNF1 Staff
July 8, 2011

Mark Webber set the fastest time during a cold and wet first practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

His fastest time of 1:46.603 was set towards the end of the session as the track started to dry but still required intermediate tyres. Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello also clocked quick times towards the end of the session and were rewarded with second and third place.

But with grip levels changing throughout the 90 minutes, the times were fairly meaningless and stand as a better indication of what the conditions were like when the car was on track rather than how fast it will be for the rest of the weekend.

The unpredictable weather was a huge headache for the teams as they desperately need dry track time to get used to running without the banned off-throttle blown diffuser this weekend. Despite the damp conditions most drivers completed roughly 20 laps to gather information, believing that the data that they gathered would be worth the cost of the extra mileage on a set of precious intermediate tyres.

Midway through the session McLaren and Lewis Hamilton went out on slick tyres to try to understand how the car would react with a dry setup along Silverstone's straights. It was a brave move as the intermediates were the only tyres suitable at the time, but it could give his team a bit of an advantage if the rest of the practice sessions are wet and qualifying and the race are dry.

With 15 minutes to go, Kamui Kobayashi got a little too brave and had a big accident on the pit straight while running on intermediates. He slewed wide coming out of the new final corner at Club and tried to keep his foot on the throttle while running on the Astroturf. His car pitched into a spin and took off on the raised grass before clobbering the wall, with the Japanese driver lucky he didn't flip. It will now be a big ask for the Sauber team to get the car back in one piece for the start of second practice.

For what it's worth, championship leader Sebastian Vettel was 13th fastest ahead of his closest rival in the title race Jenson Button in 15th. Hamilton was eighth fastest but looked capable of more towards the end of the session when he was back out on intermediates. Felipe Massa led team-mate Fernando Alonso in first practice, with the two Ferraris lining up fifth and seventh.

Webber stopped on track at the end of the session and had to pull into the old pit lane for the car to be recovered.

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