Greater Noida: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel emerged fastest from a gripping first practice session here at the Buddh International Circuit on Oct 26, as the advantage went back and forth between Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, with Mercedes chasing hard.
McLaren set the pace initially, first with Lewis Hamilton, then with Jenson Button, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg keeping them honest. Soon Felipe Massa joined in for Ferrari, before Michael Schumacher went fastest for Mercedes by just 0.086s from Button just before the first hour was up.
Then the Red Bulls came out and immediately Mark Webber went six-tenths faster before Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso exactly matched his 1m 28.963s. Webber then moved the goalposts again with 1m 28.229s, seven-tenths better, and Vettel got up there with 1m 28.532s.
Just as it seemed that Red Bull were dominant, Alonso hit back with 1m 28.210s, followed by Hamilton with 1m 28.046s. With 15 minutes left, Hamilton was going even faster with quickest time in sector one, only to head back into the pits. Then Vettel carved down to 1m 28.036s, 0.010s quicker, spoiled a faster still lap with a sideways twitch in sector three, and then, after Alonso had worked down to 1m 28.044s, banged in the 1m 27.619s which redefined the session.
Behind the world champion, Button improved on his last lap with 1m 27.929s, 0.310s down, with Alonso and Hamilton’s best times of 1m 28.044s and 1m 28.046s holding up for third and fourth. Webber lost a bit of pace and was fifth with 1m 28.175s, then there was a little gap to Rosberg’s sixth best 1m 28.447s, Massa’s 1m 28.542s and Schumacher’s 1m 28.993s.
An interesting 10th was Daniel Ricciardo who really had his Toro Rosso wound up for 1m 29.204s, which left the Australian ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus on 1m 29.291s, an impressive Valtteri Bottas’s Williams on 1m 29.691s, Paul di Resta’s Force India on 1m 29.760s, Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber on 1m 29.802s, Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India on 1m 29.850s and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus on 1m 29.895s.
Pastor Maldonado ended the morning 16th on 1m 30.041s in his Williams, ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne in his habitual 17th in the second Toro Rosso, on 1m 30.401s. The Caterhams looked good, with Vitaly Petrov on 1m 30.630s and for-the-morning partner Geido van der Garde posting an impressive 1m 30.896s.
With Sergio Perez feeling unwell on Thursday, fellow Mexican Esteban Guttierrez got a run, which yielded 1m 31.212s and 20th place for the second Sauber. Perez will be back in the car for this afternoon's session. Charles Pic was Marussia’s star on 1m 31.903s, ahead of local hero Narain Karthikeyan on 1m 32.125s for HRT, Timo Glock in the second MR-01 on 1m 32.369s, and Pedro de la Rosa at the back in the second F112 on 1m 32.859s.