• Turkish Grand Prix

Hamilton leads McLaren 1-2 in first practice

ESPNF1 Staff
May 28, 2010 « Bottas tests for Williams | »
Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the morning session © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in the first practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix, making the most of difficult track conditions to go nearly a second clear of his closest rival and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.

The lack of use of the Istanbul Park track meant that it was down on grip in the morning session and nearly every driver made an error of some sort during the 90 minutes. Dust off the racing line magnified even the slightest mistakes but conditions are set to improve as more cars hit the track and lay down rubber over the course of the weekend.

The long-wheelbase Mercedes of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were third and fourth fastest, with just 0.1 seconds separating them. Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest in the Red Bull as he experimented with the car's new F-duct, but as usual the RB6s were heavily fuelled and holding back lap time in reserve for Saturday's qualifying.

Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov's times in the Renault were good enough for sixth and seventh, suggesting the car may continue to mix it with the big four teams this weekend. The in-form Mark Webber was eighth fastest and 1.444 seconds off the pace of Hamilton's best time. His car was not running the F-duct but is still likely to be much higher up the standings on Saturday.

Fernando Alonso was the fastest Ferrari driver, a couple of tenths off Webber but over half-a-second up on team-mate and three-time winner at Istanbul Park Felipe Massa. The team is working on refining its F-duct and, like Red Bull, often holds back during Friday practice.

Force India was yet another team testing an F-duct, but its morning ended in disaster with minutes remaining when Adrian Sutil speared off the track at high-speed. Sutil appeared to lose the rear of the car in the infamous 170mph turn eight, failed to slow down in the large run off area and went into the tyre barrier nose first. He got out of the car unharmed but the front wheels and front wing of the Force India were left in tatters.

Further down the order there was a minor triumph for Lotus as Heikki Kovalainen got within 0.5 seconds of Jaime Alguersuari's time in the Toro Rosso and just 3.5 seconds of Hamilton. It marks an improvement for the new team that has typically been 4-5 seconds off the pace at previous circuits.

HRT's Karun Chandhok will also be pleased with his result as he was ahead of the two Virgins of Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock. However, a problem kept Glock in the garage for most of the session and Virgin admitted di Grassi had been using the session to familiarise himself with his newVR-01 rather than set fastest times.

Sakon Yamamoto was firmly at the bottom of the timesheets in his debut HRT as a test driver.