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Vietoris reigns in wet free practice
Christian Vietoris
Christian Vietoris laid down a marker in the first session of the 2011 season, claiming the top spot in the last minute of a wet free practice at Istanbul Park ahead of Romain Grosjean and Giedo van der Garde.

The German's best lap time of 1:43.399 was two tenths faster than his nearest rival, who had also improved his lap just before the close of a fairly dramatic session in gloomy conditions. The session opened with rain drizzling all over the circuit, and it never quite stopped across the next half hour.

Vietoris, Grosjean and Stefano Coletti set the early pace, although they were soon back in the pits courtesy of a red flag period brought about by Esteban Gutierrez's wild ride through turn nine: the Mexican rode the outside curb and was thrown onto the inside wall, stopping in the middle of the track and handing his mechanics a tough job ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session.

When the session restarted a number of drivers spun in the treacherous conditions, with Jules Bianchi notably replaying his teammates earlier accident (albeit with less damage to the car). Van der Garde claimed the top spot with 8 minutes remaining , and the assumption was that his rivals would pull up and save some tires for what looks set to be a wet weekend.

This assumption was wrong, however, as a number of drivers improved their time on the final tour of the circuit: Grosjean and then Vietoris improved on the Dutchman's time, with Bianchi, Max Chilton, Dani Clos, Coletti and Luca Filippi lining up behind the top three on the timesheets, giving an indication of the fight for pole this afternoon.

Istanbul – Free Practice

Pos Driver Team Lap Time Laps
1. Christian Vietoris Racing Engineering 1:43.399 12
2. Romain Grosjean Dams 1:43.618 11
3. Giedo van der Garde Barwa Addax Team 1:43,992 12
4. Jules Bianchi Lotus ART 1:44.697 11
5. Max Chilton Carlin 1:44.745 11
6. Dani Clos Racing Engineering 1:44.811 7
7. Stefano Coletti Trident Racing 1:45.066 11
8. Luca Filippi Super Nova Racing 1:45.135 11
9. Fabio Leimer Rapax 1:45.281 11
10. Marcus Ericsson iSport International 1:45.354 11
11. Davide Rigon Scuderia Coloni 1:45.601 12
12. Fairuz Fauzy Super Nova Racing 1:45.744 13
13. Johnny Cecotto Ocean Racing Technology 1:45.770 12
14. Sam Bird iSport International 1:45.864 10
15. Luiz Razia Team AirAsia 1:45.888 13
16. Mikhaïl Aleshin Carlin 1:45.932 10
17. Kevin Mirocha Ocean Racing Technology 1:46.034 12
18. Josef Kral Arden International 1:46.202 12
19. Rodolfo Gonzalez Trident Racing 1:46.420 3
20. Michael Herck Scuderia Coloni 1:46.493 11
21. Pal Varhaug Dams 1:46.641 12
22. Charles Pic Barwa Addax Team 1:46.991 8
23. Davide Valsecchi Team AirAsia 1:47.015 11
24. Jolyon Palmer Arden International 1:47.269 12
25. Julian Leal Rapax 1:47.608 10
26. Esteban Gutierrez Lotus ART 1:49.251 2
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