Amidst all the talk of front wing stalling on the Mercedes, it was Michael Schumacher who hustled his Silver Arrow to the top of the timesheets with a 1 min 29.1 second lap, in a session with erratic weather conditions.
Schumacher’s last 20 minute battle with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg ultimately denied his younger compatriot of another headline-stealing performance (like Brazil 2010), but it was Sergio Perez who commanded most of the session on intermediates – eventually settling in third for Sauber. Perez’s team-mate Kamui Kobayashi also impressing early on the damp track with some late-breaking to finish fifth.
Just outside of the top 10 in an impressive 12th was Timo Glock. In an undertested and out-gunned Marussia, Glock read the early conditions like a cheap book – even placing his car perilously onto the kerbing of turn 5, whilst others were still feeling their way. In fact, Glock was merely loading up his outside wheels on the scarcely available dry track – enabling him to hit the throttle earlier and stay there much longer than anyone else. Impressive stuff and a wake-up to anyone thinking he was a spent force in F1.
The Ferrari’s of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa did well to finish fourth and seventh respectively given the body language of both cars; Fernando seemingly more at home with the twitchy nature of the Ferrari in tricky conditions than Massa, who was recovering from an excursion at turn 9 in Free Practice 1. Both drivers appeared to be complaining of “seating” issues. Why this would be a factor after testing in Spain is a bit of a mystery.
World Champions Red Bull finished tenth and eleventh, with Sebastian Vettel edging Mark Webber out of the top ten. Both RB8’s appeared very flat on the road and appeared to be on a data gathering mission. Both Red Bulls and Saubers’s also delivering a raspy exhaust note through mid-fast corners – perhaps tinkering with engine mapping?… Surely not.
The McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton made rare appearances throughout the session, with both opting to work on set-up and ultimately finishing behind the Marussia of Timo Glock.
With a final practice session tomorrow in (what would appear to be) similar conditions, afinding an appropriate dry qualifying set-up (let alone race!) could be a a gamble to say the least.