For the first time in seven years, a Grand Prix practice session was completed without a single flying lap being completed after heavy rain deterred any driver from risking their car. Eighteen drivers did venture out but purely on a data acquisition exercise and to practice a start.
The rain had already played havoc with FP1 but if anything, conditions had deteriorated in the two-and-a-half hour break between sessions, ensuring that when the green light appeared at the end of the pitlane, no-one budged. In fact, it was almost fifty minutes before Mercedes took the plunge and sent Nico Rosberg out on track.
The German splashed around at a significantly reduced speed with standing water all over the circuit but with rules stating that any driver carrying out a practice start in the pitlane must continue onto the track, he had to do so on three separate occasions before calling it a day.
Teammate Michael Schumacher and Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen were next to brave the elements and the Finn provided the clearest demonstration of the conditions by spinning at Les Combes on his out lap, despite the obvious caution. With just over twenty minutes remaining, Lewis Hamilton also took to the race track but he also found Les Combes tough to negotiate, outbraking himself and taking his McLaren on a detour through the escape road.
Many of the drivers yet to have gone out chose to do so in the dying seconds in order to carry out a practice start on the grid. With that being the case, the final result took on an unusual appearance as those late tours registered on the timing screens despite having started in the pit lane, leaving ten drivers with official times to their names.
For the record, Charles Pic was the quickest of the lot for Marussia, giving the team the distinction, however hollow, of having topped a practice session on their 50th Grand Prix weekend. The French rookie led Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, Paul Di Resta and Pastor Maldonado with Timo Glock completing the top six in the second Marussia. Kamui Kobayashi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were the others to register a lap time.
Besides Alonso, the other championship contenders were content to simply complete installation laps with Mark Webber and the two Lotus drivers not bothering to go out at all on an afternoon to forget.