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Practice One - Hamilton leads the way in India 28 Oct 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Thursday, 27 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice Day, Friday, 28 October 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Sahara Force India Formula One Team and Karun Chandhok (IND) Team Lotus T128 Reserve Driver at the end of the pit lane.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice Day, Friday, 28 October 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice Day, Friday, 28 October 2011 Karun Chandhok (IND) Team Lotus T128 Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice Day, Friday, 28 October 2011 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice Day, Friday, 28 October 2011

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton stole the fastest time from the Red Bull drivers right at the end of the first hour and a half-long practice session at a dusty Buddh International Circuit on Friday morning.

Many simulations had predicted an ultimate lap time of 1m 27s, but after local heroes Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan had opened the bidding with 1m 52.148s and 1m 45.906s respectively, the best lap time fell progressively as the ever-present dust got blown away by the passage of the cars and the track slowly began to rubber in and get rid of some of its surface oils.

Karthikeyan took his HRT round in 1m 42.310s, then team mate Daniel Ricciardo responded with 1m 39.835s as the process continued. Michael Schumacher then had a solid run for Mercedes, starting with 1m 38.638s and working down via 1m 35.275s to 1m 34.635s before Jaime Alguersuari bounced out of the pits to post a confident 1m 34.314s for Toro Rosso. As conditions kept getting better Nico Rosberg lapped his Mercedes in 1m 34.002s before the young Spaniard went round in 1m 31.904s, then 1m 31.299s.

Thereafter the big guns hit their stride, first with Jenson Button lapping his McLaren in 1m 30.794s, before improving that to 1m 29.694s. Then Schumacher was back again, with 1m 29.353s and 1m 28.656s until Button went round in 1m 28.501s. He was quickly superseded by team mate Hamilton on 1m 27.515s before Mark Webber took a turn up front with 1m 27.428s until Red Bull’s team mate Sebastian Vettel aced that with 1m 27.416s despite earlier missing the chicane.

There things seemed set the stay as first Alguersuari spun exiting Turn Nine and tapped the outer wall, and then Pastor Maldonado’s Williams stopped at Turn 16 with either engine or transmission failure within the final 10 minutes. Hamilton banged in a lap right at the end that stopped the clocks in 1m 26.836s, to go 0.580s quicker.

The Red Bulls stayed second and third ahead of Button on 1m 28.394s, then Schumacher and Rosberg on 1m 28.531s and 1m 28.542s. Felipe Massa was Ferrari’s main runner in seventh with 1m 28.644s, after Fernando Alonso stopped out on the circuit after recording 1m 35.899s. He wound up 24th after finding a way to get his Ferrari back to the pits.

Adrian Sutil was on good form for local hero team Force India, in eighth with 1m 28.705s, then came Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi on 1m 29.219s, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 29.355s, Force India’s Paul di Resta on 1m 29.700s, and the Renaults of Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna on 1m 29.705s and 1m 29.799s.

Behind them, Sergio Perez survived an off in the chicane to lap the second Sauber in 1m 30.132s, chased by Williams’ Rubens Barrichello on 1m 30.367s, Alguersuari on 1m 30.566s, Williams’ Maldonado on 1m 30.669s and Jarno Trulli in the improving Lotus on 1m 30.818s.

Chandhok had a scare when a big dose of wheelspin as he went to exit the pits half spun him nearly into Maldonado’s path, after which he whittled down to 1m 32.487s in the second Lotus. Timo Glock got close to him on 1m 32.771s in the lead Virgin, while team mate Jerome D’Ambrosio was 23rd on 1m 35.796s. That left the HRTs between them, Ricciardo on 1m 33.928s and Karthikeyan respectably close on 1m 34.113s.

Apart from a brief delay early on while a stray dog was rounded up, there were no further red flags, although several drivers besides Alguersuari went beyond the limits at various stages, notably Hamilton, Kobayashi, Senna, Vettel, Massa, Petrov, Maldonado, Di Resta and Perez.

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