2012 German Grand Prix first practice
Jenson Button was one of the first drivers to set a competitive time in first practice. He remained on top until the end of the session as intermittent rain kept the drivers guessing throughout the 90 minutes of running.
As McLaren tested an extensive upgrade including new sidepods, Button put in a 1’16.595 to go quickest early on. That remained the top time until the end of the session as three separate showers fell during practice.
The tricky conditions caught out several drivers, particularly at turn 12 where the likes of Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber and Dani Clos skirted disaster.
Jean-Eric Vergne has a huge moment at turn one, the Toro Rosso driver amazingly catching a car which seemed certain to break away from him completely.
When the rain stopped in the final minutes most of the drivers returned to the track to run until the chequered flag. Times began to fall as the track improved and Lewis Hamilton came closest to beating his team mate.
Button’s time might have been beaten had Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas not crashed at the hairpin in the Motodrom section with a few minutes remaining in the session, bringing out the yellow flags.
Despite the rain, teams persevered with some significant upgrades. There was considerable interest in the new air intakes on Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, which spent most of the session doing single runs without setting a time. His best lap was set while Bottas’s car was being recovered.
Kamui Kobayashi also had an array of sensors behind his left-rear wheel and was doing fixed-speed runs.
Early in the session McLaren appeared to be running a pair of rear-facing lights on their car to examine their latest update.
|6||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’17.599||1.004||17|
|12||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’18.339||1.744||21|
|14||16||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’18.709||2.114||30|
|16||11||Jules Bianchi||Force India-Mercedes||1’18.972||2.377||21|
|17||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’19.039||2.444||34|
|20||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’20.122||3.527||27|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1’21.138||4.543||24|
2012 German Grand Prix
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Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei