Adrian Sutil pulled another one his now customary wet weather performances out for first practice to go quickest at Hockenheim in the tricky Friday morning session, as McLaren endured a major setback when Lewis Hamilton comprehensively mangled the left rear of his MP4-25.
The former World Champion, who won a spectacular race the last time F1 visited this venue, hit a puddle and over-corrected through the left-handed Turn 3, 70 minutes into the session. This snapped the car right and across the grass. Without purchase, the McLaren did not slow and swiped the wall heavily, damaging three corners of the car – and no doubt the new blown diffuser system.
No such dramas for Sutil thoug,h, as the Force India driver was a feature through the second half of the 90 minutes as the track dried steadily – a complete dry line even emerging by the end. He eventually worked down to a best of 1m25.701s when the track was at its driest.
The drier line didn't stop the spins coming, indeed rarely have there been so many in one session as more than half the field had a flinching moment – some more than once.
One of those multi-spinners was Felipe Massa, who eventually went second fastest, but looked all at sea in his Ferrari for most of the session. The Brazilian had no less than five moments, the biggest of which saw him toboganning across the grass on the high-speed entry to the stadium.
Jenson Button put in a late flier to go third fastest, having complained on the radio about the handling of his McLaren early on.
Rubens Barrichello, another to have a high-speed spin at Turn 3 when the track was at its wettest, was fourth fastest for Williams ahead of the impressive Vitaly Petrov – an acknowledged rain maestro – and Nico Rosberg, who was quickest for a while before drifting back to sixth.
Sebastien Buemi was seventh fastest as both Toro Rossos featured highly through the session, though in the end teammate Jaime Alguersuari ended in 16th.
Nico Hulkenberg was eighth fastest, making it two Williams in the top 10 – which was completed by Vitantonio Liuzzi and Pedro de la Rosa.
Sebastian Vettel might actually have been fastest had his late flier not been interrupted by a trundling Lotus and he finished up 11th ahead of an extraordinarily high-up Timo Glock in the Virgin.
Mark Webber was 14th,. Fernando Alonso a lowly 19th, while Michael Schumacher wound up 23rd.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:25.701 20
2. Massa Ferrari 1:26.850 + 1.149 27
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.936 + 1.235 16
4. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:26.947 + 1.246 21
5. Petrov Renault 1:26.948 + 1.247 21
6. Rosberg Mercedes 1:27.448 + 1.747 20
7. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.114 + 2.413 31
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:28.193 + 2.492 24
9. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:28.300 + 2.599 19
10. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.486 + 2.785 23
11. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:28.735 + 3.034 21
12. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:28.735 + 3.034 21
13. Kubica Renault 1:28.903 + 3.202 20
14. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:29.048 + 3.347 13
15. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:29.280 + 3.579 17
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.366 + 3.665 34
17. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:29.429 + 3.728 8
18. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:29.500 + 3.799 19
19. Alonso Ferrari 1:29.684 + 3.983 15
20. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:29.690 + 3.989 17
21. Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth 1:30.938 + 5.237 27
22. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:31.720 + 6.019 23
23. Schumacher Mercedes 1:32.450 + 6.749 13
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:32.791 + 7.090 26
All Timing Unofficial