Mixed start for Hamilton and Button

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button endured contrasting fortunes in the first practice session for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.

It was a 90-minute outing, however, that was primarily all about data gathering for McLaren whose cars are sporting a major upgrade they hope will propel them ahead of Red Bull Racing.

But in temperatures touching 25C and in stands packed with more fans for this session than there were in Turkey for the race itself, it was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who took the morning honours around a reconfigured Silverstone.

Vettel, winner last time out in Valencia and who took the chequered flag in a Red Bull one-two in this race a year ago, led the way with a lap time of one minute 32.280secs for the 5.901km track.

The new Arena section of the Northamptonshire venue caused a few concerns for Hamilton on its entry that now kinks right out of Abbey, rather than heading on up towards Bridge.

Where the old concrete meets the new, there is now a significant bump and on two occasions that threw Hamilton out of kilter, sending him into the run-off areas.

The 25-year-old, however, still managed to finish with the second quickest time, 0.334secs adrift of Vettel and narrowly ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica by 0.111secs.

Mark Webber, fresh from his spectacular accident in the European Grand Prix when he was catapulted into the air after running into the back of Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen, showed no ill effects.

Suffering with nothing more than a bruised right big toe and using one of Vettel’s former chassis, Webber was just under half a second off the pace of his team-mate.

Force India’s Adrian Sutil was the only other driver to finish within a second of Vettel, the fellow German 0.688secs adrift.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was then the best of the rest, followed by Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg, with reigning champion Jenson Button in eighth in his McLaren, 1.239secs down.

McLaren, however, are running the rule over their version of the exhaust blown diffuser that has been on the Red Bull since day one of this season and has propelled the team to eight poles in nine races.

Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher and old Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello completed the top 10 for Mercedes and Williams respectively, albeit 1.6secs and 1.7secs adrift respectively.

As for the current Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, on a track where the Maranello marque are not expected to do well, they were 13th and 17th, both over two seconds behind Vettel.

On his first outing in an F1 car around Silverstone, Force India’s test and reserve driver Paul di Resta, was 14th, exactly 2.3secs adrift.

As for the other two reserves on show in Lotus’ Fairuz Fauzy and Hispania Racing’s Sakon Yamamoto were a woeful seven seconds down in 23rd and 24th, which can hardly be of benefit for either team.

Although Jarno Trulli will replace Fauzy in the Lotus, Japan’s Yamamoto is in the car for the weekend as Bruno Senna has been dropped for the weekend, with no official reason as yet from the team.

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