Nico Rosberg topped the times in the first Free Practice of Friday in Valencia ahead of the European Grand Prix in a session which saw many drivers caught out by the dusty track.
The session saw a brief red flag period after the mirror from Bruno Senna’s HRT detached itself at high speed bouncing on to the track just as Sebastien Buemi came through. With nowhere to go to avoid it, the Swiss drivers Toro Rosso run over the mirror shattering it across track, leaving sharp debris along the way. Fortunately for Buemi his car received nothing more than a few scratches.
Rosberg used his “F-Duct” wing stalling system to take the fastest time of the session – 1:41.175 and was followed by Lewis Hamilton who had previously topped the times, just 0.164 off the pace.
Another concern across the field is the performance of the Bridgestone tyes with many drivers complaining of tyre degradation.
Speaking on twitter after the session Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen said “First session done tyres seem quite weak I got a few laps out of them, should improve significantly. Balance pretty good.” Kovalainen showed no signs of tiredness despite having to drive 1200km through the night to reach the circuit after his plane was cancelled due to the French air traffic control strikes. The Finn setting the fastest time of the new teams and finishing the session a promising 0.308s off the pace of Jaime Alguersuari.
Fernando Alonso finished the session in ninth place with Ferrari using the session to evaluate their new exhaust system.
Michael Schumacher finished his Valencia debut in eighth place, 1.137s behind team-mate Rosberg.
Paul di Resta and Christian Klein both got a run in today’s practice as both Force India and HRT look to improve their car.
HRT faced problems later in the session when their running was limited due to drive shaft problems in Bruno Senna’s car and a gearbox problem in Klein’s.