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Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 14:48 UK

Hamilton heads Vettel in practice

Venue: Nurburgring Dates: 10-12 July 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Highlights - Hamilton tops German GP practice

By Chris Whyatt

Lewis Hamilton surprisingly clocked Friday's fastest German Grand Prix practice lap in his modified McLaren at a cold and gloomy Nurburgring.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was quickest in the morning but the struggling world champion beat his time in the afternoon with one minute 32.149 seconds.

Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Brawn's Jenson Button were close behind as the track temperature finally rose.

Button leads the drivers' championship with chasing Vettel 25 points adrift.

The 22-year-old German, who won the last Formula 1 race at Silverstone and has claimed two races victories in 2009 to Button's six, was eighth early on after his Red Bull suffered electrical problems - but delivered the day's second-fastest lap in the afternoon.

We managed to make a few set-up changes and it seemed to help a little bit but we can't underestimate the pace of the other guys

Lewis Hamilton

Webber was fourth in the second session while Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Toyota's Jarno Trulli came in third and fourth in the morning, when track temperatures struggled to rise above 15 degrees.

Though practice is rarely, if ever, a true indicator of potential race or qualifying form, the aerodynamic tweaks that Ferrari have made looked to be working smoothly with Kimi Raikkonen sixth in the morning, just one tenth of a second behind Massa.

Hamilton, who sits 11th in the 2009 drivers' world championship just one season after becoming the youngest ever world champion in F1, was also driving in a car with fresh developments.

Although the Kers (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) failed early on, his McLaren ran with a new front wing, diffuser and top bodywork while Heikki Kovalainen - who did not run with all the updates - finished down in 18th and 13th.

"We managed to make a few set-up changes and it seemed to help a little bit but we can't underestimate the pace of the other guys," said Hamilton.

"We may be in the top 10 [in qualifying ] and if we do it's a fantastic job from the guys in the team. To see all the hard work they do come to the circuit and to be stepping in the right direction, they must be very proud."

Highlight - Webber sets pace in Germany

McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe also told BBC Sport: "It's always great to be at the top of the time sheets especially at Mercedes' home grand prix.

"The job now is to translate that into some points. Unfortunately, we did not have enough of the new parts to give the same package to Heikki."

Button struggled at Silverstone as he was unable to put heat into his tyres dues to the low temperatures, and again said he was not entirely comfortable.

"I'm not that happy with the set-up of the car and we don't quite understand the softer tyre yet," he said.

"I'm sure Lewis was on quite low fuel, but even so they [McLaren] are quite competitive and the Ferraris were okay as well.

"This is a circuit that suits our car more than Silverstone. The temperature is not perfect for us but even with the low temperatures here today we're okay.

"But I don't think we're on Red Bull's pace."

Some teams have brought significant adjustments to their cars in Germany as they bid to reign in championship pace-setters Brawn and Red Bull at the season's half-way point.

Yet Fernando Alonso was 10th in the morning as his Renault, which has a revised front wing, spent time in the garage having the front suspension looked at, before he came in eighth in the second session.


Chasing his first GP win after 129 race starts Webber - second at the British GP and fourth in the drivers' championship - posted the quickest morning lap fairly early to top a practice session for the first time this season.

"There's similar conditions [to Silverstone], maybe even cooler here, so hopefully we can give Brawn a good run again," said Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

"It's got its own little microclimate here, because the altitude's quite high, so anything can happen at any time.

"Both drivers are pretty pumped up and all those Schumacher fans seem to be turning into Sebastian Vettel fans, so here's got a lot of local fans.

"But Mark for me is a real dark horse here. It would be great to see him win a race. He needs to get that monkey off his back."

The third and final practice session is on Saturday at 1000 BST followed by qualifying at 1300 BST.

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see also
McLaren still fighting - Hamilton
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix practice results
07 Jul 09 |  Results
German GP practice as it happened
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix practice photos
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Zoom in and fly around the Nurburgring
08 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
F1 breakaway plans still in place
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Button wary of Red Bull challenge
09 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Title is 'Button's to lose now'
07 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
14 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Button hopes to bounce back in Germany
21 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel romps to Silverstone win
21 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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