• Malaysian Grand Prix - FP1

Webber back on top in Malaysia

ESPNF1 Staff
April 8, 2011
Mark Webber bounced back from a disappointing weekend in Australia with the fastest time of the morning session © Getty Images

Mark Webber set the fastest lap during first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, in a session littered with strange failures.

Webber set the early pace on his first run of the day, before shaving more time off on each of his subsequent runs to finish with a 1:37.651. Lewis Hamilton joined him on quick runs mid-way through the 90 minutes, eventually finishing over one and a half seconds further back in second.

Michael Schumacher racked up 29 laps as he posted the third fastest time another half a second behind Hamilton, with busiest man Pastor Maldonado in fourth having completed 31 laps. Ferrari focussed on aero tests for much of the session as it seeks to improve on a disappointing race in Australia, with Felipe Massa sixth fastest and Fernando Alonso ninth.

Jenson Button complained of a lack of rear grip and too much play in his steering wheel as he only set the 15th fastest time, over three seconds off Webber's pace. There was some encouragement for Lotus though, with Jarno Trulli one place behind Button and just ahead of Melbourne winner Sebastian Vettel.

Renault had a difficult morning with problems on both cars. Vitaly Petrov went off at turn nine as his front left upright appeared to explode, sending him spinning in to the gravel trap. Earlier in the session team-mate Nick Heidfeld suffered an odd problem as he locked his front right tyre under braking in to turn one and his wheel seized for the rest of the lap. The tyre soon punctured and caused the car to bottom out, damaging the floor of the R31. Renault later confirmed that the problem was with the both cars' suspension uprights and not brakes.

Late in the session Jerome d'Ambrosio suffered a front right suspension failure under braking for the final corner and spun off at high speed. While his car stopped before the barriers, the incident brought out waved yellow flags and prevented anyone from improving on their times.

Conditions were tricky with many drivers also making mistakes. Hamilton and Jaime Alguersuari both collected big slides through turn seven, while Alonso twice went off after getting on the ever-increasing marbles that were being deposited off the racing line.

Narain Karthikeyan's luck didn't improve from Australia, with his engine emitting a lot of smoke as he exited the pit lane for his first proper run of the day. The HRT came to a halt just after turn four but was recovered back to the pits by the team, which did well to get him back on track for the final ten minutes of the session. But, despite an upgraded aero package on the F111 including a new front wing, both Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi were well off the pace .