You wait all winter for the first practice session of the new season and it chucks it down. Both sessions held on Friday proved to be good ones for Lewis Hamilton but not so for his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.
The first practice session saw hat-trick chasing Hamilton 0.421 seconds then Danniil Kvyat in his Red Bull. The poor weather really played its part though with a late shower scuppering Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of recording a fast time. Nico Rosberg could only manage the sixth fastest time
With so much rain about there were of course a few problems for the drivers but thankfully no one was hurt. Daniel Ricciardo had an off at Turn 13 but had already managed to record the third fastest time in his Red Bull. Others having problems included Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) and Rio Haryanto (Manor)
Did we learn much from the first session? Perhaps not because teams didn’t really want their drivers spending too much time out on the potentially dangerous track. Only Vettel (Ferrari) and Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) failed to set a timed lap. It was a technical problem that caused problems for Sainz.
McLaren fans will have been relatively happy with both Alonso and Button finishing in the top ten.
Going into the second session, the big news was Nico Rosberg crashing his Mercedes while Lewis Hamilton was again fastest. With conditions till wet, the German driver lost control as he accelerated out of Turn Six and managed to break off the front wing of his Mercedes. That was the end of his lap as carrying on would have resulted in lots of debris being scattered all over the track.
“I accelerated too much and lost the car,” said Rosberg. “That was not good for sure. Good for me the track didn’t dry out.”
Hamilton completed his impressive day finishing 0.467 seconds ahead of Nico Hulkenberg (Force India). None of his laps were on dry tyres because of the dodgy conditions out there.
Mercedes boss Tito Wolff admitted it was a good day for Lewis and not so for Nico but doesn’t think it’ll be conclusive. “Psychologically, first little step for ‘the Hammer’, but it is early days. Nico wouldn’t be where he is if a scrappy Friday would cause him some headaches.”
Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth with Carlos Sainz having better luck finishing fifth. There was more good news for McLaren supporters with Fernando Alonso sixth fastest especially as it was really wet when his time was set with Jenson Button in seventh.
Due to the wet conditions we probably didn’t learn a great deal today. Now we wait for the new-style qualifying session tomorrow that starts at 6.00 GMT if you fancy getting up early. The slowest driver will be eliminated every 90 seconds in the second half of each of the three sessions so this should be really interesting.
I’ll be back tomorrow after qualifying to set the scene for the first race of the season.