Button fastest in first practice
|By Simon Strang||Friday, April 16th 2010, 03:31 GMT|
Jenson Button set the early pace for McLaren in first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix, but it was Sebastien Buemi who ended the session counting his blessings after surviving one of the most bizarre accidents in modern Formula 1 history.
With 75 minutes of the session gone, the Swiss driver crashed at the end of the Shanghai circuit's long back straight when his front suspension appeared to shatter in the braking zone and both his front wheels simultaneously flew off his Scuderia Toro Rosso car.
Buemi's machine then tobogganed off into the gravel trap where it came to rest - having unsurprisingly caused a red flag period.
STR sensibly kept Jaime Alguersuari's sister car in the garage for the rest of FP1 as the team began its investigation into the incident.
Button's time of 1m36.677s was set halfway through the 90 minutes as the Australian Grand Prix winner took full advantage of the extra straightline speed afforded to him by his McLaren F-duct.
For a while it was a McLaren 1-2 at the top of the order, with Lewis Hamilton two tenths behind until Nico Rosberg split the pair with his Mercedes to lap just 0.071s slower than Button prior to Buemi's shunt.
Hamilton eventually ended up third having improved his time to a 1m36.775s.
Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest after setting his time when the track re-opened to move ahead of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
Vitaly Petrov just missed out on sixth position as the chequered flag came out when his Renault team-mate Robert Kubica stole his thunder with a 1m37.601s.
Mark Webber was eighth fastest ahead of Adrian Sutil and Ferrari's Felipe Massa.
The only other significant incident in the session happened when former world championship leader Fernando Alonso pulled off the circuit on the exit of Turn 6 with what appeared to be another engine failure - flames licking from the exhaust ports on the Ferrari. The Spaniard had yet to set a time in the session.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.677s 15 2. Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.748s +0.071 17 3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.775s +0.098 19 4. Schumacher Mercedes 1m37.509s +0.832 14 5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.601s +0.924 20 6. Kubica Renault 1m37.716s +1.039 17 7. Petrov Renault 1m37.745s +1.068 25 8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m37.980s +1.303 17 9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m38.008s +1.331 13 10. Massa Ferrari 1m38.098s +1.421 19 11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.161s +1.484 19 12. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.375s +1.698 21 13. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.421s +1.744 19 14. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m38.569s +1.892 20 15. di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m38.618s +1.941 26 16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m38.678s +2.001 17 17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.939s +3.262 5 18. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m41.531s +4.854 22 19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m41.779s +5.102 23 20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m41.830s +5.153 20 21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m42.181s +5.504 27 22. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1m43.875s +7.198 23 23. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1m43.949s +7.272 20 24. Alonso Ferrari no time 6 All Timing Unofficial