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Page last updated at 13:50 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 14:50 UK

German GP practice as it happened


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By Caroline Cheese

1439: Right then. Third practice tomorrow at 1000 BST followed by qualifying at 1300 BST. JOIN ME. (Thanks!)

1434: It was an electrical problem for Nelsinho, who nonetheless finishes 10th quickest, two places behind Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso. That's the third time this season Hamilton has gone quickest in practice. He's currently strolling around the McLaren garage patting his mechanics on the back.

1431: The day wouldn't be complete without Nelson Piquet Jr and some yellow flags. To be fair to the Brazilian, it looks like a mechanical problem rather than driver error.

1430: Thumbs up from Lewis Hamilton as practice two finishes with the world champion on top with a 1:32.149. Vettel, Button, Webber, Trulli and Sutil complete the top six.

1429: Vettel loses two-tenths through the final sector and has to settle for second. Mark Webber follows his Red Bull team-mate over the finish line and he can do no better than fourth.

1428: Andrew raining on Lewis Hamilton's parade there... he's probably right though. Hamilton's team-mate Heikki Kovalainen is in 17th. Seb Vettel is on a flier...

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "I wouldn't get too excited about that time from Hamilton. Remember this is Mercedes's home race. Call me a cynic, but I strongly suspect he was running on a thimble-full of fuel to get that lap out of that McLaren."

1425: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton leads the way... and it's not often I've written that sentence this season. As the black clouds gather once again, it's Hamilton-Vettel-Button. Less than five minutes remaining.

1423: What's that? Not familiar with turn two of the Nurburgring? You'll be needing a 3D circuit guide then.

1420: Lewis Hamilton takes a spin in his McLaren through turn two but nothing too dramatic and he's back on his merry way. Still third quickest.

1416: Yikes, hope Jake Humphrey is near the facilities. Antony Davidson, now reporting from the pit lane, reveals Ferrari are "throwing super-softs" at their cars in a bid to get some decent times on the board. Massa is 11th, Raikkonen 15th. Not good.

BBC Sport's Jake Humphrey on Twitter: "I've drunk six 500ml bottles of water today. It's called Ja!"

It's raining
1409: Crikey, this is like Wimbledon (before the roof, when it used to rain). It's drizzling again.

1406: Seb Vettel - a big fan of sport via the live text format - heeds my call and goes top of the pops with a 1:32.342, simultaneously destroying England's brief moment of glory.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "Some of you may have noticed the story last week about Bulgaria wanting to host a grand prix. Representatives are here in Germany on Friday and are due to have a meeting with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. Lovely country though Bulgaria almost certainly is, it's not exactly a place either steeped in F1 or where the car manufacturers sell a lot of product. So you can be pretty sure the manufacturer teams are less than enthused about the prospect of a race there when there is still not one in the USA."

1403: Rejoice, England. It's a Button-Hamilton one-two. I shall take a moment to look at that leaderboard and marvel. Trulli and Webber behind them. Seb Vettel not exactly pulling up trees in 10th.

1354: Can anyone beat Mark Webber? Well, Jenson Button might. The championship leader posts a 1:32.369 and the Brawn seems to be enjoying the conditions at the Nurburgring a bit more than Silverstone. It's Webber next - AND THEN ADRIAN SUTIL!

1348: Jarno Trulli is in the 1:32 club, while Kazuki Nakajima is 0.002 seconds away. And while Nick Heidfeld lies fourth, his BMW team-mate Bob Kubica is 15th.

1345: 45 minutes remaining - and can anyone beat Mark Webber? The BBC Sport columnist (yes, that was a shameless plug) is the only man into the 1:32s today. It won't be Lewis Hamilton for the moment. The Englishman goes sideways on the exit of turn three, but he recovers.

1338: Jarno Trulli going backwards in his Toyota... but he's kept the engine running and he's back pointing the right way again.

1336: And now the big guns start to fire. Mark Webber back on top with a 1:32.940, Jenson Button third.

1334: Heikki Kovalainen taking a rare turn on top of the leaderboard with a 1:33.724, ahead of the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg.

1329: Holly Samos reports that Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari had a hydraulic leak, which is now fixed and he'll be out on the track imminently.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "There has been an interesting intervention in the ongoing political row in F1. Australian Grand Prix chief Ron Walker has called on Max Mosley to quit to guarantee a solution to the problems that could, in the worst-case scenario, lead to the major teams breaking away from the sport. Walker is very much F1 commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone's man, so his remarks are being seen in the paddock as a coded message from Ecclestone to his old friend to stop antagonising the teams and go quietly - as Mosley promised to do last month."

1323: There are some v black clouds around but that doesn't scare Nico Rosberg, who's putting the pedal down on the near-empty track.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "Some particularly aggressive flecks of rain have now added to the flippin' freezing weather here. But rubber expert Andy at Bridgestone thinks he has a solution. He has suggested that I wrap myself up in one of the team's tyre warmers to shake off the shivers. Apparently, tyre blankets get as hot as 90C, now we're talking…"

1315: The rain has everyone scurrying back to the garages and it's all quiet on the track. Holly Samos says this rain is set to last for about 10 minutes. Just as I type that, Nick Heidfeld roars out of the pits in his BMW.

BBC Sport's Jake Humphrey on Twitter: "Filming done. Just had a good catch-up with DC who enjoyed Goodwood. EJ arrives this avo. FP2 underway, and the rain is returning."

Get involved on 606
From blindedbyfear on 606: "I hope it rains during qualifying and the race. Hopefully Button won't score and we'll have a proper championship battle on our hands. I don't have anything against Jenson, I just don't want the 2002 season to be repeated."

1307: Giancarlo Fisichella is the first to fall foul of the bad weather, losing the rear end of his Force India at turn 11 and sliding onto the wet grass and into a tyre wall. Nose cone ruined. Session probably over for Fisi.

It's raining
1305: As the rain begins to fall again, news from the pit lane is that Heikki Kovalainen will be running the old spec McLaren this afternoon, while Lewis Hamilton has got a new floor and nosecone. Rain is actually pretty heavy and the track is officially declared wet.

BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Something interesting from first practice at the Nurburgring; a bump has appeared at Turn One and it appears to be causing the drivers a few problems. It's the result of the building work going on around the circuit, in particular the construction of a new rollercoaster. It's pretty vicious and in the first practice we saw Heikki Kovalainen nearly missing his braking point in his McLaren. In more positive news, Sebastian Vettel's electrical problems - related to his Red Bull's Renault engine - have been easily fixed."

1302: The Sebastie/ans of Vettel and Bourdais almost come together there. Settle down fellas, it's only practice. And now Kazuki Nakajima goes into the gravel at the final turn. Eventful start to the session.

1300: Martin Brundle in leathers... calm down, ladies. The light is green. Track temp is 20C, actual temp a miserable 12C.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "It's not all helicopters and first-class flights for Formula 1's famous faces, you know. BBC broadcaster Martin Brundle arrived in Germany on his BMW motorbike after powering all the way from sunny Norfolk. In case you wondered, the 500-mile journey took eight-and-a-half hours and he describes the scenic route through northern Europe as "tremendous." AND, in case you were also wondering (as I was), Martin was decked out in Marlon Brandon-esque black leathers."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "Just seen the most fantastic pair of pyjama-type trousers. A very middle-aged man is wandering around the paddock wearing strides in stripes of gold, black, purple, pink and yellow - and he's matched them with a pair of gold Puma trainers. What country are we in again?"

1249: Sutil also claims to be a fan of Roger Federer but doesn't know how many Grand Slam title he's won. Suspicious. Away from the wacky world of Adrian Sutil, second practice gets up and running in 11 minutes. And if King of Practice Nico Rosberg doesn't pull his finger out after that miserable first session, I shall be very disappointed.

1246: Hello again. In the break, I have learnt that Adrian Sutil shares a birthday with Kazuki Nakajima and hates spiders. I feel we're really getting to the heart of the man now.

1037: Session one done. Session two begins at 1300 BST. I will return shortly before that, I very much hope you will too. In the mean time, there's some cricket and some cycling to keep you out of mischief.

1033: That's the first time this season that Webber has topped a practice session. His team-mate, who sat out a good 25 minutes of the session thanks to some loose wiring, is eighth. Nico Rosberg, the master of practice, will surely be fuming with his seventh position.

1031: Red Bull's Mark Webber hangs on to top spot with a 1.33.082, just under four-tenths of a second quicker than Brawn's Jenson Button. Felipe Massa, in the souped-up Ferrari, is third, ahead of Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella.

1030: Vettel fails to get his tyres up to temperature in time and he won't threaten team-mate Mark Webber.

1027: Wire re-attached and Seb Vettel is back out on the track.... Rubens Barrichello smokes the tyres coming into turn one and is forced to run wide. Mark Webber may have heard that his team-mate is back in action and he is putting some quick laps now.

1023: Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello lock up at exactly the same place and run over the Castrol S chicane.

1019: Red Bull are looking at Seb Vettel's car - and Ted Kravitz reckons the reason for the stoppage was a "tiny little problem" like a wire coming loose.

1016: Contrasting fortunes for the Brawns of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello this morning. The Brit is up in second, while the Brazilian props up the leaderboard. They will both put in some more laps before this session ends in 15 minutes.

1013: Seb Vettel's Red Bull and the Force India of Adrian Sutil have made their way back to the garages. Says Antony Davidson: "Even when they're being pushed down the pit-lane, the Red Bull is still pulling away from the Force India."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "It hasn't been a good morning for Fernando Alonso so far. Renault are making some intricate changes to the front suspension. It's insanely complicated..."

1002: McLaren tell Lewis Hamilton that Kers is not working properly and to switch it off. The world champ is struggling in 19th. Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella has joined the top three party in second. Mark Webber top, Jenson Button third quickest.

0959: Electrical problem for Vettel, say Red Bull, and it means the young German will lose half an hour's practice time.

0957: Force India report that Sutil suffered a "loss of hydraulic pressure". Still not sure what's up with Vettel's Red Bull. Vettel is on the back of a bike on his way back to the pits.

0954: Everyone except Lewis Hamilton has posted a quick one, but the Englishman is now out on the track. Mark Webber, Seb Vettel and Felipe Massa is the one-two-three... but now Vettel parks up very close to where Sutil stopped. What's going on?

0949: Commentators' curse strikes... Adrian Sutil parks up at the exit of turn two. A portly steward lollops over to help push the stricken Force India. Looks like it might be a gearbox problem.

0948: Can Force India finally get off the mark in F1? Yes, is the verdict from the 5 Live Sports Extra team. If Adrian Sutil hadn't had his crash during Silverstone qualifying, they might have done already. The mighty Sutil is third quickest at the Nurburgring at the moment, behind Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.

0942: It's a one-lap specialist one-two at the top with Jarno Trulli leading from Nico Rosberg. Brawn and Red Bull yet to show.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "Keep your eye on Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel during first practice because this is the first time he has driven round the Nurburgring in an F1 car. It seems like he's been around for ages but the 22-year-old is only in his second season and last year's German GP was held at Hockenheim. Like most F1 fanatics, the teenage Vettel has had a spin around the Nurburgring's fearsome Nordschleife. The northern loop of the circuit was home to the German GP until Niki Lauda's horrific, fiery crash in 1976 saw it dropped from the F1 calendar. Vettel says: "As soon as I got my licence I did a lap of the Nordschleife in a road car but I was completely lost and around half a lap I completely lost the brakes and I was lucky not to go off." Thankfully he is expecting things to go much more smoothly this weekend: "The new Nürburgring is one of the better modern tracks - and even the schnitzel in the local pubs is legendary.""

0936: Good news, the weather has perked up a bit and I spy cars on the track. Quick laps are being posted. Hurrah!

BBC pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "Getting the tyres to work for Button and Barrichello is crucial for Brawn. Rubens was saying that at Silverstone, the tyres were 80C under the blankets, and after one lap they went down to 55C. That is very unusual."

0930: One hour of this session remaining... and nothing is happening on the track. Nothing at all.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "Red Bull's car might be the class of the field, but there have been ructions behind the scenes at the team. Technical director Geoff Willis, who was brought in a couple of years ago to work with design chief/resident genius Adrian Newey, has parted company with the team. Simplistically, Willis's role was a management one while Newey got on with the creative side of things, and he was seen as the man whose job it was to keep Newey's feet on the ground, but the team have decided that his position had become redundant."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner: "Hopefully we can give Brawn a good run for their money this weekend. The problem at the moment is the circuit is greasy and you're not going to learn anything."

0923: Whitmarsh is also asked if he is tempted to "do a Honda" and focus energies on next year's car. "Yes," is his answer, but he says they are trying to find a balance. "We're a race team and it hurts not being at the front."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh: "For us there's a little bit of excitement, We're brought parts here which were due for Hungary to try to lift the performance of the car. We have a radically different front wing on Heikki's car. On Lewis's car, we have a completely different floor."

0917: Giancarlo Fisichella starting to slide around a bit in his Force India and the slick tyres are no longer cutting the mustard out there.

It's raining
0915: Not only is it cold, it's also raining a little bit. Lovely. Giancarlo Fisichella and Sebastien Buemi are the only drivers with times on the board so far.

0911: It's only 11C at the Nurburgring, 15C on track. BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz reckons Felipe Massa has a new nose cone and chassis on his Ferrari, which are basically copied from Red Bull. The days of everyone cribbing from Brawn apparently long gone.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt at the Nurburgring: "It is 21 days since my last Grand Prix but a 4am alarm call on Thursday morning and we are back on the road again. A flight to Dusseldorf and then a two-hour drive to find the Nurburgring nestled in the Eifel Mountains. Up and up, the road snaked above green fields and squares of thick conifers with sunshine and swatches of clouds overhead. After negotiating heavy traffic and a German version of "We Will Rock You" blaring from the radio, we made it to the track by lunchtime. BBC HQ is providing a welcome temporary reprieve from the "four-seasons-in-one-day" climes of The Ring. Right now, grey rain clouds are skittering across the circuit to my right with brighter skies to the left. It is also very chilly - about 15C - with what Andrew Benson has efficiently described as a "brisk breeze". Brrr. There is, however, one good thing to be said about the weather; changeable conditions = unpredictable racing."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at the Nurburgring: "Gone are the days when teams made a couple of updates to their cars a year - these days most teams have something new at nearly every race. This weekend, the major changes have been made by the 'big' teams, who are struggling this year. So, BMW Sauber have a new double diffuser, rear suspension and front wing. McLaren have a new front wing, diffuser and top bodywork. Renault have a revised front wing and Ferrari have a few small aerodynamic tweaks around the car. Of the title contenders, Red Bull, who took a fundamentally revised car to Silverstone, appear to have a few small bits and pieces, and Brawn have revised front wing endplates."

0900: The clock is ticking... and a treat for the home fans as Sebastian Vettel, Germany's best hope for a home winner, emerges early from the Red Bull garage and pootles around the track.

0858: On to matters on the track… and the news is it's ruddy cold in Germany. That may be bad news for Brawn, who struggled at Silverstone in the chilly conditions, and good news for Red Bull, who didn't.

0853: If you want the proper inside track on all this, may I recommend Andrew Benson's blog? It's basically what I said, but with posher words. Ha, only joking Andrew.

0849: So the last time we met, F1 was on the verge of disintegration because of a row between eight teams and Max Mosley, boss of the sport's governing body the FIA. But, praise be, a few days after the British Grand Prix, they sorted it all out and everyone was friends again… for precisely two whole days until Max got upset about some things in the media and threatened to take back his promise to step down as FIA boss. Then the eight teams were told at a meeting they couldn't have any input on rules etc because they haven't actually officially entered the 2010 championship, even though an FIA statement a couple of weeks back said they had. So in summary: THEY'RE STILL GOING ON ABOUT IT.

0839: Eight races down, nine to go, which I reckon makes the upcoming race at the Nurburgring the halfway point. First practice gets under way at 0900 BST, with the second session kicking off at 1300 BST. Give me a shout on 81111 or on 606

0835: Ah, hello to you. Hope you're feeling fully rested and refreshed after that mid-season break. Ready for another round of the FIA/Fota row?

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see also
Hamilton heads Vettel in practice
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
McLaren still fighting - Hamilton
10 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
German Grand Prix practice photos
10 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
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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