Robert Kubica led the way for Renault as the weekend got underway, beating Nico Rosberg's Mercedes to the top spot by just under 0.2 seconds, with Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel filling the other top five places.
Robert Kubica topped the opening practice for Renault © Sutton
Entertainment was provided by Kamui Kobayashi, who smashed his front wing on a marker cone - and then lost the replacement approaching Turn 3 when the weakened mounting failed. Both incidents caused red flags. His team-mate Pedro de la Rosa wasn't having much fun either, stopping with a clutch problem.
The new teams got more practice mileage this time, although a gearbox oil leak and a differential problem respectively hampered Timo Glock's Virgin and Jarno Trulli's Lotus.
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Matt Beer started freelancing for Autosport.com in the first week of its existence in 1999, and spent the next decade-and-a-half dovetailing increasing amounts of time contributing to it with UK national reporting, driver and team PR, freelance for organisations including ITV, BMW, Autocourse and the FIA Institute and a parallel career co-managing award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatres.
He stopped being stubborn and became Autosport.com's deputy editor in April 2014. Matt also oversees Haymarket's talent development programme for emerging motorsport writers and escapes to cover Formula Ford 1600 races whenever possible.