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Practice One - Alonso tops delayed session in Austin 15 Nov 2013

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 2 November 2013 The foggy conditions clear and Practice One, reduced to a one-hour session, gets underway A replacement medical helicopter arrives allowing the session to restart Last year's winner of the United States Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, lights up the front tyres of his Mercedes on the thermal imaging camera Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finishes fastest in first practice ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button and Williams' Valtteri Bottas

After lengthy delays caused by fog and problems with the medical helicopter, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso emerged with the quickest time in the opening practice session in the United States on Friday.

The Spaniard lapped the Circuit of The Americas in Austin in 1m 38.343s to see off the challenge of McLaren's Jenson Button, with Williams' Valtteri Bottas a surprise third fastest.

The session began with a half-hour delay when fog prevented the medical helicopter from landing. Then, after Button and Sergio Perez had set the initial pace for McLaren, there was another 20-minute delay as the helicopter had still not arrived.

In the end, Alonso finished 0.028s ahead of Button, with Bottas a further 0.045s back, the Englishman’s time a 1m 38.371s and the Finn’s a 1m 38.388s.

Generally, the times were close. Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez delighted the Mexicans in the crowd by setting the fourth fastest time of 1m 38.532s, just ahead of the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on 1m 38.657s and 1m 38.979s respectively.

Felipe Massa was seventh in the second Ferrari on 1m 39.005s, just ahead of Mark Webber, an unusually lowly eighth in the lead Red Bull on 1m 39.083s. Sebastian Vettel in the sister car was only 18th on 1m 40.662s, although it appeared that he was fuelled heavily.

Nico Hulkenberg put the second Sauber ninth with 1m 39.158s, with Pastor Maldonado completing the top 10 with 1m 39.200 for Williams.

Romain Grosjean was 11th for Lotus with 1m 39.238s, with new team mate Heikki Kovalainen making an impressive return with the 13th fastest time of 1m 39.487s in the unfamiliar E21. Perez split them with 1m 39.256s.

Adrian Sutil was Force India’s leader with 1m 39.699s ahead of team mate Paul di Resta on 1m 39.836s. Then came Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 39.863s for Toro Rosso, just ahead of the man who’ll replace him at the team next year, Daniil Kvyat. The Russian rookie made a most impressive official debut by running right behind the experienced Australian, with 1m 40.065s which left him ahead of Vettel. Jean-Eric Vergne will replace Kvyat for FP2.

American Alex Rossi (deputising for Giedo van der Garde in FP1) also impressed, leading Caterham’s charge with a lap of 1m 41.399s. Max Chilton’s Marussia was next on 1m 41.605s, with Charles Pic 21st on 1m 42.054s in the second Caterham.

Bringing up the rear was the second Marussia of Rodolfo Gonzalez with 1m 43.716s, although the Venezuelan ended the session with his car parked at the side of the track with a technical problem. That brought out the yellow flags and prevented the likes of Hamilton and Sutil from improving their times.

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