Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011

McLaren fastest as Vettel goes off in first practice

2011 Japanese GP first practice

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2011
Vettel crashed at the end of the first session

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton topped the times after the first practice session at Suzuka.

Hamilton headed the times initially before Button pegged him back with a lap of 1’33.648, less than a tenth of a second faster than his team mate.

With the teams using just one set of tyres there were few improvements later in the session and the McLaren duo remained on top of the times.

One driver who did improve his time was Sebastian Vettel, who took third with a 1’34.090. The Red Bull driver was seen tackling the high-speed 130R without closing his DRS early in the session.

Button found 0.014s with his final lap of the session to cement his place at the top of the times.

But Vettel’s final effort did not go according to plan. He took to the run-off at Degner 2, ploughed through the gravel and reached the barrier at low speed.

Fernando Alonso was fourth for Ferrari ahead of the second Red Bull of Mark Webber.

Pastor Maldonado’s session came to an early end when he went off at turn six. He rejoined the track but pulled over shortly afterwards.

The Toro Rosso pair showed good early pace, Jaime Alguersuari taking sixth, Sebastien Buemi eighth, with Felipe Massa in between them.

Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov completed the top ten.

The Renault driver was running the regular specification bodywork on his car while team mate Bruno Senna evaluated the latest upgrade. He was 11th, a tenth of a second off his team mate.

Pos.CarDriverCarBest lapGapLaps
14Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.63420
23Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.7250.09118
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’34.0900.45622
45Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’34.3720.73825
52Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’34.4260.79225
619Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.9371.30323
76Felipe MassaFerrari1’35.5851.95127
818Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.5901.95625
97Michael SchumacherMercedes1’36.0332.39922
1010Vitaly PetrovRenault1’36.3702.73618
119Bruno SennaRenault1’36.4872.85318
1214Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’36.7003.06621
1316Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’36.9483.31424
1415Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’36.9493.31522
1517Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’37.1033.46929
168Nico RosbergMercedes1’38.1974.56318
1711Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’38.3314.69711
1812Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’38.4464.8128
1921Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’39.1685.53410
2020Karun ChandhokLotus-Renault1’39.9466.31222
2124Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’40.8727.23813
2225Jerome D’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’41.0197.38524
2322Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’41.1067.47225
2423Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’41.7758.14125

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “McLaren fastest as Vettel goes off in first practice”

  1. Is Vettel cracking under pressure? or is that just a mistake?

    1. Just a mistake. He can take the title basically at his leisure.

      1. yep, thats what i thought. Why would he be under pressure now. But im sure he is trying to do his best and find the limits…

        1. Come to think of it, it looks more like Hamilton may be slightly under pressure …

    2. What pressure? He is champion since Valencia. It was only a minor mistake and in Suzuka they usually tends to pay hard for mistakes.

      1. That’s the problem – it’s only FP1 and he’s going all out and making a mistake that he doesn’t need to, he just needs to get quality data for his technicians and not cause too much grief by having to do repairs to the car before qualy. He was lucky to come off fairly unscathed, it could have been potentially worse and cause himself injury, like breaking a leg and not being able to drive for the rest of the season – he’ll then be praying in his bed that Jenson doesn’t win all the remaining races. And don’t say it couldn’t happen – just look at Schumi in 1999.

        1. Actually I disagree. Looking at his 2010 and 2011; it seems to be his usual routine. He always has an off; or sometimes a crash in FP1. That way; he knows where the limit is.

          1. That’s what I’m pointing to – the fact that he has an off during FP1… he’s had a few this year. He could do better in finding the limit without crashing, cos all it takes is a bad crash and it could end his career. In this case he wasn’t trying to find the limit but in fact he was thinking about something else…

            Vettel said that the incident sharpened his focus on the race weekend rather than the championship.

            “I would say I had a good reminder this morning in the practice not to think about something else.”

    3. Canada; Turkey. Early days.

    4. I guess its just trying out different things in FP1 to know where the limit is for Vettel, the fact he improved his time later in the session shows he was not on super fast mode earlier.

    5. Pressure? What pressure?

    6. Rib khalifa (@)
      7th October 2011, 8:47

      He’s not under any pressure.He’s just EXCITED.

  2. That was quick

  3. looks like STR-Ferrari were running light.

    1. and Mclaren!

  4. Keith – I think is very important to put the number of laps by driver in the chart.

    1. I always do, just hadn’t got around to it yet.

  5. Off topic: Great site changes Keith, congratulations!

    1. I like them too. Hated the old one!!

  6. My guess is that a lot of influental people heard Crofty and Ant discussing the possibility of a tarmac runoff on the outside of the Degners. And I guess it’s going to be a tarmac runoff next year on if F1 stays in Suzuka.

    It’s kind of sad – as Petrov put it in the preview quotes now ‘if you get a wheel wrong and off-track, you won’t come back, you end up in the gravel trap’ – and I think he thought of the Degners and Spoon above all. It’s a challenge which could go.

    On the other hand it would be safer, and economical – you go off, and stop, no need for a new front wing.

  7. I can sympathise with Vettel, Degner 2 is forever catching me out, on raging games albeit.

    Looks like we got a decent set of runs in this session so perhaps this could be more indicative than usual, or 2012 aero is getting its first outing ;)

    1. Agree… Degner 1 seems to suck you in after you’ve spent a while coming out of Dunlop Curve… and as you get faster you feel you can get faster through Degner 1 and Degner 2 – a bit like the Spoon curve. But get Degner 1 right it gives you massive speed into Degner 2, get it wrong you end up in kitty litter.

  8. Bring back more gravel traps!! It makes it more exiting for the fans and the drivers.

    In an ideal world I’d love to see gravel traps for qualifying and run-offs for the race :D. Somehow I see this as unlikely…

    By the way, this new forum layout etc is a great addition to F1Fanatic Keith.

  9. I missed FP1 but caught the start of FP2 on the red button – the BBC were on about there being something strange on Vettel’s front wing and that he didn’t seem to want his car lifted. Does anyone know anything about this?

    1. I am not sure about that, but I found a great picture of the RB Floor.
      http://en.espnf1.com/japan/motorsport/story/60741.html

  10. Vettel crashed. still fast.

  11. Might be early, but McLaren look very fast, as Red Bull.

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