Saturday 18 November 2017

F1: Jenson Button burns up the track in first practice for Sunday’s German Grand Prix

JENSON Button led a McLaren one-two at the end of first practice ahead of Sunday's German Grand Prix.

As starts go to a weekend in a bid to claw back the advantage gained by their rivals of late, McLaren could not have asked for anything better.

On the back of the British Grand Prix 12 days ago when Button and Hamilton were woefully off the pace in finishing 10th and eighth respectively, McLaren have been determined to raise their game.

For this weekend at Hockenheim the team are sporting a raft of new updates on the car, some more visual than others, including new sidepods to assist with aerodynamics.

Although too early to call as to their significance, McLaren can be pleased they have at least set off on the right foot.

Button, whose season has fallen off the rails after collecting seven points from the last six races, was quickly out of the traps with a lap of one minute 16.595 seconds.

It was a time that was never bettered throughout a session that was hit with the odd rain shower, but failed to affect running too much.

Hamilton, 37 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari, sneaked within half a second late on to depose the Spaniard from second spot as he finished 0.775secs adrift.

Mercedes' Michael Schumacher led the quintet of Germans on home soil, the seven-times champion 0.787secs down on Button.

Behind Sauber's Sergio Perez in fifth were another two Germans in Force India's Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes, both over a second off the pace.

A recently resurgent Felipe Massa was eighth quickest in his Ferrari ahead of Williams' Pastor Maldonado and Lotus' Romain Grosjean who completed the top 10.

Red Bull, who seemingly have again become the team to beat given their pace of late in Valencia and at Silverstone, had Sebastian Vettel down in 12th, 1.744secs down.

As for British Grand Prix winner Mark Webber, the Australian was 20th, 3.527secs adrift, seemingly suggesting he and Vettel were running high-fuel loads.

In between, Williams' reserve Valtteri Bottas was 13th, blotting his previously unblemished copybook - as the Finn has run in the majority of first practice sessions for Bruno Senna this season - with a late spin into the gravel.

Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen spent most of his session testing Lotus' new 'double-DRS' - pioneered by Mercedes - in a bid to find more straightline speed when the system is allowed to be activated.

After a number of installation laps, Raikkonen finally raised himself up to 15th late on, but 2.236secs adrift.

Jules Bianchi was allowed another first practice outing for Force India, with Paul di Resta standing down on this occasion, with the Frenchman 16th and 2.377secs down.

Another reserve in HRT's Dani Clos brought up the rear, 5.145secs off of Button's pace, and more significantly 0.6secs behind team- mate Pedro de la Rosa who was 23rd.

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