Formula 1 News

Button marks best time while Vettel crashes

Both McLaren lead the session with Hamilton just 0.091s behind his teammate. The defending champion had a strong accident with one minute to go for the session.
Friday, October 7, 2011

SUZUKA, Japan, Oct 7, 2011 (AFP) - Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel dramatically crashed out in practice Friday in a jittery start to the Japanese Grand Prix, where he is just one point away from sealing back-to-back world titles.

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The German speared into the wall at turn nine in the final minute of opening practice, but he was unhurt in the smash. Vettel was third in the session and McLaren's Jenson Button was quickest with 1min 33.634secs in his last lap.

Button, who sits second in the championship and trails the German by 124 points, needs to win the final five races of the season and have Vettel not finish better than 10th in any Grand Prix to deny him the title.

Vettel's car sustained only minor damage in the nose-first plunge into the barriers, with Red Bull expected to set a new front wing assembly before the afternoon practice session.

Splitting Button and Vettel in opening practice was Briton Lewis Hamilton, the McLaren driver finishing 0.091secs behind his team-mate.

Spains Fernando Alonso was fourth for Ferrari, while Vettels team-mate, Australian Mark Webber, rounded out the top five.

Ferrari duo Alonso and Felipe Massa of Brazil were the first drivers from the top-line teams on the circuit on a sunny morning at Suzuka, but it was Webber who made the early running as he went fastest with his first timed lap.

Alonso and then Hamilton quickly usurped Webbers time before Button edged his team-mate by seven one-hundredths of a second with a 1:33.468 after 45 minutes, which remained the time to beat until his final lap of the session.

Besides Vettel, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado was the only other driver to run off-track and finished the session in 18th place, completing just eight laps in all.

The 26-year-old Williams rookie, a first-time visitor to Suzuka, ran wildly off the circuit at turn six midway through the 90-minute session and was forced to park the car beside the track.

German Timo Glock also had his session curtailed; the Virgin driver managed just 13 laps and finished 21st after spending much of practice in the pits with gearbox problems.

A second 90-minute practice session will start at 2:00 pm (0500 GMT). See FP1 times below.

JAPAN GRAND PRIX PRACTICE TIMES 1

POS No. DRIVER TEAM TIME GAP LAPS
1 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.634 20
2 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.725 0.091 18
3 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:34.090 0.456 22
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:34.372 0.738 24
5 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:34.426 0.792 25
6 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:34.937 1.303 23
7 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.585 1.951 27
8 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:35.590 1.956 25
9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:36.033 2.399 22
10 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:36.370 2.736 18
11 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1:36.487 2.853 18
12 14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:36.700 3.066 21
13 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.948 3.314 24
14 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:36.949 3.315 22
15 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.103 3.469 29
16 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.197 4.563 18
17 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.331 4.697 11
18 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:38.446 4.812 8
19 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:39.168 5.534 10
20 20 Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1:39.946 6.312 22
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:40.872 7.238 13
22 25 Jerome d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:41.019 7.385 24
23 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:41.106 7.472 25
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:41.775 8.141 25

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