Felipe Massa set the fastest lap of Friday practice for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in Delhi, on a day that began with a canine track invasion.
This four-legged creature, who was spotted on track just after Karun Chandhok had completed the first flying lap of the new Buddh International Circuit, caused an early red flag in the morning session. However, 90-minutes later it was Lewis Hamilton in the dog house after he set his best lap – and the fastest of Free Practice 1 – whilst yellow flags were still out on track.
The Brit, whose season has featured frequent appearances in front of the stewards, admitted his mistake and received a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race. Sergio Perez was also given the same penalty for a similar offence.
Massa was pleased with his efforts today, and would no doubt like to remain on top for the rest of the weekend. However, the Brailizian warns that other teams will only grow stronger as the weekend progresses.
“It's always nice to be in first place at the end of a day's work, however we know that Friday's results are all relative,” said Massa. “Sure, it would be nice to move through the weekend in the same position, but that will be very difficult to achieve.”
“The car seems competitive, but we must wait and see what McLaren and Red Bull can do tomorrow, as they are still very strong,” added the Brazilian.
Sebastian Vettel was second fastest in both of the practice sessions today, and declared himself a fan of the new circuit. “It's an interesting track, a good challenge,” said the German. “It was very dusty to start with, but the track seems fun, especially the wide entries which give a lot of options to all the drivers. It should be a good race on Sunday.”
Fernando Alonso finished the day third fastest despite a technical problem in the morning session that forced him to stop out on track and Lewis Hamilton was fourth. Mark Webber and Jenson Button round of a fairly predictable top six.
There were also some non-canine-related incidents during the two ninety-minute practice sessions. Toro Rosso‘s Jaime Alguersuari was the first driver to make contact with the crash barriers during the morning session whilst Virgin Racing driver JÃ©rÃ´me D'Ambrosio experienced the heaviest impact mid-way through Free Practice 2. The Belgian made a mistake out of Turn 11 and hit the wall, damaging his rear wing.