It was a warm morning on the Asian side of the city where east meets west, although ambient temperatures in the high 20s were very much beaten by those of the track surface, which reached figures in the low 40s.
It was no surprise to the see the two Lotus cars leave the pits immediately as the green pit exit light illuminated at 10am local time, with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen running new pillar-mounted rear wings as well as a selection of other new aerodynamic and mechanical parts this weekend.
Other notable changes are that Mercedes GP has reverted to its longer wheelbase, debuted in Barcelona but not used on the narrow streets of Monaco, and that both Red Bull Racing and Force India are using rear wing-stalling f-duct systems for the first time; however, in championship-leading Red Bull's case, only Mark Webber was running the device for the first 90-minute practice period of the day.
Teammate Vettel, who celebrates his 50th Formula 1 race this weekend, was on-track with a brand-new chassis – cheekily labeled 'Randy Mandy' by the German, keeping up with his car-naming tradition – after a crack was found in the monocoque previously used by the man who took pole in Istanbul last year.
With so little grip on offer, Hamilton's best effort of 1:28.653 was just under four seconds of Juan Pablo Montoya's race lap record of 2005, with several drivers having run wide at various points around the circuit as well – not least Turn 1.
After placing Christian Klien in the car at the Circuit de Catalunya, Hispania elected to run other reserve driver Sakon Yamamoto this morning although – despite the former Super Aguri driver suffering a loose gurney flap on his rear wing – it was team-mate Karun Chandhok with larger problems 40 minutes in, coasting from Turn 10 to the pit lane with a suspected electrical problem before rejoining the session in the late stages. Pit-stop practices took place before the session and various system checks were conducted during it, although Adrian Sutil confirmed that drivers were not able to push as hard as possible in the final three minutes as yellow flags came out for his accident, which took place on the exit of the notorious Turn 8; the reason for the shunt, which saw caused the car's front wing and both front wheels to be detached after impacting with the tire barriers, remains unknown at present.
|15.||de la Rosa||Sauber-Ferrari||1:31.238||+2.585||17|