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Page last updated at 13:57 GMT, Friday, 20 May 2011 14:57 UK

Spanish GP practice as it happened


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By Oliver Brett

1457: Please join me again on Saturday, when we will start the text commentary at 0930, ahead of the 1000-1100 third and final practice session. Qualifying starts at 1300. Hasta luego!

Joanne Keighley on Twitter: "Practice sessions look promising... we may not see that wagging finger this weekend!"

1447: I have one more parting shot from Andrew, his missive on Ferrari's plans to leave the door open for another top driver to join the team despite their new agreement to keep Fernando Alonso until 2016.

1444: Please read Andrew Benson's beautifully-crafted report on today's events.

1441: I have been put in my place by my learned colleague Sarah Holt, who reckons Fernando Alonso could also prove some sort of a threat to Red Bull as the season continues.

The Press Association's Ian Parkes on Twitter: "Could we finally have a battle on our hands this weekend? Let's hope so.
Anything like Shanghai would suit... It seems like Hamilton is the only real threat to the Red Bulls this season.

BBC Radio 5 live F1 commentator David Croft: "If you're Lewis Hamilton you're going to view this as a pretty productive day. You're going to think 'I might just be in the hunt this time.' "

Chequered flag
1431: So that's it, no late quick times today with the used softs failing to threaten the times set by fresh softs.

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Nick Anderson, Edinburgh: "They should follow the lead of the Indy car series and have points for drivers in practice and qualifying."

1427: No movement in the top nine times for some time... we're running out of time in this session.

1425: Can Alonso get past any of the best times set by the Red Bulls and McLarens? Now is his moment... Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton locks his brakes, drifts sideways a bit and gets dangerously close to Hispania's Narain Karthikeyan.

1421: Ferrari announce: "Fernando left the garage for the last run, on soft used tyres. Felipe followed the same programme."

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Big step on the soft tyre for Heikki, much better but still stuggling to get a good balance with the new configuration, as we expected."
Kovalainen has the 18th fastest time, but team-mate Jarno Trulli is at the bottom of the pack.

1417: Even BBC Sport's Sarah Holt agrees with me that today's racing has been a bit low-key in the last few minutes. Any danger of some late drama to perk it all up a bit?

Laura Leslie on Twitter: "Trust Hamilton to set the cat free. Splitting those Bulls is important."

1414: It's slightly better news for Felipe Massa fans, the Brazilian Ferrari driver taking the eighth fastest time of the session, narrowly ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber. Sixteen minutes remaining...

Nigel Bunt on Twitter: "The sound of the blown defuser under braking is brilliant, it's like a WW2 plane."
Amazing how many people can detect different engine noises, to me it's just a general wail of noise...

1410: Massa is reporting under-steer on corners three and nine. Alonso has gone fifth fastest, but Massa is languishing in 15th position at the minute.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "The saga of the Bahrain Grand Prix continues to rumble on, with the teams anxious to find out what governing body the FIA will decide when it meets on 3 June to discuss whether the race, which was postponed from its season-opening slot following civil unrest in the Gulf state, will be rescheduled . The latest twist, reported by Autosport, is that it could take the slot of the new Indian Grand Prix on 30 October, with India moving to the end of the season on 4 December. It seems that is a serious possibility, although it does depend on whether the FIA decides it is safe/advisable to go to Bahrain at all this year."

1405: Hamilton is just 0.039 seconds behind Webber's best time, and about three-tenths of a second better than Vettel. Button goes fourth best, so what can Ferrari do?

1401: Lewis Hamilton is bang on Webber's fastest lap after the second sector, and his overall time means the McLaren man splits the two Red Bulls. Finally, a challenge.

BBC 5 live analyst Maurice Hamilton: "It's getting a bit predictable, I have to say. Our worse fear was that this would be a Red Bull track and it's being realised. Everyone else was relying on their updates but Red Bull have done their homework too and have improved their car. To have both drivers doing lap times so easily is bad news for their rivals at this stage."

1356: Jenson Button goes third fastest, ahead of the two Mercedes in fourth and fifth. Everyone's still miles behind Red Bull.

1354: Felipe Massa on Ferrari team radio: "That was close, veeery close." Rob Smedley, his race engineer at Ferrari replies: "Yup, saw that."

1351: Webber's gap over his Red Bull team-mate is 0.356 seconds. The chasing pack, such as it is, is led by Nick Heidfeld, nearly two seconds adrift of Webber. Michael Schumacher suffers some bad over-steer in sector one, and now Felipe Massa has sent his Ferrari into gravel on turn five.

1349: BBC 5 live analyst and Team Lotus reserve Karun Chandhok is pretty impressed with the Red Bull pace. "That has just blown the competition away," he says.

1347: Webber goes quickest of all, and he's got one more flying lap to go.

1346: Mark Webber has beaten Vettel on the first sector... let's see if he can keep up the pace.

1345: And here comes a scary fast Vettel lap on softs - a 1:22.826 no less, nearly two seconds faster than Petrov. Holy-moly.

1342: Renault confirm Petrov was definitely the first driver in Spain to go soft, so to speak, while Red Bull are sending out Sebastian Vettel on the "option" tyre as well right now.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson at Barcelona: "I was granted a rare exclusive interview with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali early this morning, in which we discussed the team's relatively poor start to the season. Among many other things, he refused to rule out partnering Fernando Alonso with another driver of similar calibre in the future and said that he had had enough of excuses for Ferrari's lack of pace - he wanted some solutions instead. More to come shortly."

1340: Petrov, incidentally, appears to have been one of the first drivers out on soft tyres, which of course go somewhat faster than the hards.

1338: Vitaly Petrov has just sent his Renault around this 4.655km circuit in a new quickest time, knocking 0.450 seconds off Hamilton's previous best.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Text from Warren, Duxford: "I would just like to say a huge thanks for your advice and to everyone at the BBC who helped arrange a screening of the film Senna for me to go to. Someone read the subtitles perfectly to me and the film is brilliant. It's a real look into Senna the man as well as the F1 driver."
I'm looking forward to taking my wife to that one. She was a big fan of his...

1332: The top four drivers are currently separated by only half a second. Hamilton is fastest with 1:25.236, just ahead of Alonso, with Maldonado third and Button fourth, 0.533 seconds behind his McLaren team-mate.

1330: What's this? Some pace from Williams? Pastor Maldonado, he of the morning's sole crash, goes third fastest, with a 1:25.603.

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Stephen Money, Cumbria: "Can you please say hello to me. I'm sat watching at home recovering from a badly broken leg and foot after sleep walking out of an upstairs window last year. I love f1 and think this season could be the best for a long time!"
Hello, hope you're enjoying today!

1321: ...but it's still not perfect for McLaren, Hamilton losing his rear as he pushes the car a bit harder on a right-hand turn.

Force India on Twitter: "Initial run done for Adrian [Sutil] on scrubbed prime tyres. Paul [di Resta] still out there getting his first taste of all the new upgrades."

1321: ...but it's still not perfect for McLaren, Hamilton losing his rear as he pushes the car a bit harder on a right-hand turn.

1319: Lewis Hamilton, in his first flying lap of the session, sets a fresh fastest time, with a 1:25.236. A glimmer for McLaren... "Lewis goes fastest - seems like those changes are coming together well," say the team.

1317: Sebastian Vettel has just had an "off" at turn three. No dramas, Karun Chandhok detecting some understeer on BBC commentary, but he still completed a pretty quick lap all things considered. At the top of the ladder for now are Alonso, followed by Button, Massa and Heidfeld.

Virgin Racing on Twitter: "Pretty much everyone out on track now, both drivers coming in. Trying laps with and without DRS. Jerome thinks the last change was a bit too far."

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Mark Webber set the pace in first practice on Friday morning, which drew further attention to one of the mysteries of the season so far - his inability to challenge Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying when the two were so closely matched throughout 2010. Webber, it has to be said, had problems in the first three races that meant he did not get a proper crack at qualifying, but he was 0.5secs slower than Vettel in Turkey last time out and is well aware of the problem. He points the finger at the differing characteristics of this year's Pirelli tyres from the Bridgestones used last year: "We were very even on the Bridgestone tyres and on the Pirellis it's not quite like that. That's not an excuse but it's the only thing that's changed. Seb's doing a good job and it's up to me to get better."

1311: If you'd rather catch up with highlights of P1 rather than persist with my nonsense, then we've got a clickable package of what happened this morning for the enjoyment of UK users.

1306: Felipe Massa was a bit slower than Fernando Alonso this morning, but now the Brazilian half of the Ferrari pairing sets the quickest lap in the very early stages of this session - a 1:25.707.

1304: Confirmation that Paul di Resta [Force India] and Sebastien Buemi [Sauber], having had the morning off, are back in the cockpit of their respective race cars now.

1301: As is often the case, it's some of the minor teams out first, with Barcelona native Jamie Alguersuari set to post the first recorded time in his Toro Rosso.

1300: It's hot and the cars are on track now.

1259: OK, more focus on McLaren now, as it's pretty important that they do something this afternoon. Our very own Andrew Benson tracked down a McLaren spokesman to find out more and he reports that the team were nonetheless 'pretty encouraged.' The McLaren source also told our man that first practice was mainly about gathering data on the upgrade's performance as well as set-up work with both drivers on the same fuel levels and tyres. McLaren added that they plan to 'converge the data and components' this afternoon, which we'll all look forward to...

Nick Heidfeld
1257: Anyone care to fathom what's going on with Nick Heidfeld's mid-1970s hair-and-beard ensemble? Might he have attended an Abba revival night in the not-too-distant past?

1252: Well, Richard, McLaren certainly pulled it out of the bag in Shanghai - winning the race when it looked like Lewis Hamilton might have to start in the pits. But they've got to do it again this weekend, and again and again and again. That Red Bull's not getting any slower.

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Richard - text message: "Is there something fundamentally wrong with McLaren's design department? They seem to have problems at each race getting new parts to work, whereas Red Bull are fine straight out of the box. It can't all be the Adrian Newey effect?"

Pirelli Media on Twitter: "Michael Schumacher managed to lower his lap time after putting 30 laps on his tyres: a sign that the new hard compound has an improved range."

1244: Oh Lordy. It looks like we haven't quite solved this mountain range conundrum. Keith, via text, says: "Tibidado mountains are what you can see from the circuit." Shall we just say they are part of the generic coastal Catalan range? That is, definitely not the Pyrenees, which sit along the Franco-Spanish border.

Autosport F1 correspondent Jon Noble on Twitter: "Upgrades still arriving at the Spanish GP. Lots of bubble-wrapped bits spotted at Red Bull this morning - and new McLaren floor just arrived."

1240: We are 20 minutes away from P2, and while we await our first sightings of cars, here's some nice stuff from BBC Sport's Sarah Holt: "Fernando Alonso became the first Spaniard to win his home grand prix when he took the flag for Renault in 2006. The 29-year-old still says of that victory in Barcelona that it 'may be for me still the most emotional race'. It's no surprise then that Alonso has chosen the 2006 Spanish GP as one of his five classic grands prix - along with a few other interesting choices. Back in the here and now, Ferrari blamed a lack of grip on Felipe Massa's 16th-place finish in first practice. The Italian team also reported they had spent the morning testing some new parts and running through pit stops and practice starts. Keep your eyes peeled for some faster times from them in second practice."

1235: In an earlier era - I'm thinking back to the days of James Hunt here - Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button would have spent the past hour with a few glasses of chilled fino and some delectable Catalan tapas - maybe some flame-grilled chorizo, a bit of pickled anchovy and a spot of ensaladilla. The modern reality is they have in fact probably been studying video footage while grimly sucking on an isotonic drink, and wondering why their McLarens have only managed to set the sixth and ninth fastest times of the session.

1230: Welcome back.

1104: OK, you lovely people need to read Andrew Benson's report on that Red Bull master class this morning. And when you've done that you can join me again at 1230 for the second session. Thank you very much.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Maria, on text message: "It is the Cadena Costero Catalana. Inside there is the Pico de Monserrat with a height of 1,224 metres."
Thank you so much, Maria. Sometimes the internet can't help with such things...

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Rob, Telford: "Fantastic morning for Perez in the Sauber, wonder if he can take that through to qualifying and turn it into race pace. Fingers crossed."

Walid Sam Dehvari on Twitter: "Nico Rosberg would seem to be confirming Mercedes improvement and likewise Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. More worrying is McLaren."

1045: Having looked at some maps of this area, I'm not entirely sure we're close enough to the Pyrenees, in actual fact. Anyone know what the name of the "cordillera" visible from this racetrack is? Answers please via text to 81111 or tweet me @bbcsport_oliver / hashtag #bbcf1. Thanks!

1042: As a helicopter passes serenely overhead at the Ciruit de Catalunya, with the blue-grey foothills of the Pyrenees in the background, may I remind you that our next session is underway at 1300. Once again, it will be a 90-minute affair.

BBC 5 live analyst Maurice Hamilton: "Nico Rosberg would seem to be confirming Mercedes improvement and likewise Fernando Alonso at Ferrari. More worrying is McLaren. We need to find out what was going on down at McLaren with Lewis Hamilton sixth and Jenson Button ninth. They had a very, very busy morning and let's hope that they can reach some satisfactory conclusions."

1034: Ferrari fans wll note Felipe Massa was only 16th fastest. Apparently he has been on a very different set-up to Fernando Alonso, or as his team call it in nauseating office-speak, the two drivers have "different solutions fitted on their cars."

1033: Here's an update from Williams and the situation concerning Pastor Maldonado, the only driver to have a crash in the session: "Pastor back in the garage, says he just lost the rear and ran off, didn't hit anything so doesn't think anything is damaged."

1032: Here's our top-10 from this morning: Webber (1:25.142), Vettel (1:26.149), Rosberg (1:26.379), Alonso (1:26.480), Perez (1:26.738), Hamilton (1:26.988), Schumacher (1:27.016), Heidfeld (1:27.132), Button (1:27.138), Barrichello (1:27.212).

Chequered flag
1030: As the drivers get through their last lap of the session, Webber is given some team orders about Kers which nobody quite understands. Confirmation that he has been the quickest in this session.

1029: Test driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is hotly tipped to take a race seat next season at the latest, is 12th fastest in his Toro Rosso. Good show from the Aussie.

1025: McLaren are doing a lot of experimentation with updates this morning, and Jenson Button has been on the radio to his team bosses, saying: "It feels like the tyres take a long time to respond to the changes."

Mercedes on Twitter: "Michael reports a lot of tailwind on track right now."
...which presumably is a headwind in other parts of the circuit...

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
John Howard, text message: "All this DRS and high degradation tyres is annoying. There may have been 'exciting' races so far, but it's artificial. Solving F1's overtaking problems only requires lengthening the braking distances."

1020: They've been on top so far this season, and once again Red Bull look every inch the team to beat on Barcelona's fast and flowing circuit. Webber leads his team-mate Vettel by just over a second at the top of the timings. Mercedes, who improved their pace over a single lap last time out in Turkey, are next fastest with Nico Rosberg 1.338secs adrift in third. McLaren and Ferrari have both talked confidently about closing the gap on Red Bull in Barcelona but Alonso's Ferrari is 1.338secs behind in fourth with Hamilton's McLaren 1.846secs further back in fifth.

1017: Plenty of super slo-mo images on TV showing various cars' front wings oscillating quite a lot, indicating that this is a bumpy circuit compared to others. Some of the end-plates get to within an inch or two of the tarmac.

1014: The attention to detail in this sport is astonishing. Here's one fact I have pruned from an official preview pamphlet for this race (within the section entitled Changes to the Circuit since 2010): "All gravel checked to ensure no stones greater than 15mm in diameter. Great deal of new gravel laid." Talk about leaving no stone unturned...

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Mark Webber has come in to the Red Bull garage. He's used the same set of hard tyres all session and the front right is starting to show its age now. The reason Webber hasn't been as fast as his team-mate Vettel so far is that he hasn't been able to get used to the tyres. He is just figuring out how to drive the tyres to their full capacity and when he does he will be right back on it."

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Text message from Sam: "Rachel T makes a good point - we don't actually know how good Vettel is because his car is so superior. It is quite plausible that half the drivers on the grid could win the title in the Red Bull."

Pirelli Media on Twitter: "Conditions warm and dry. Most teams on shorter runs with the extra set of hard tyres. Longer runs expected this afternoon."

1005: So here's a latest top-10 from this morning's times: Webber (1:25.142), Vettel, Rosberg, Alonso, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Button, Barrichello, Schumacher, Petrov.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "My notebook here contains sketches of the latest developments to the Virgin car, after sporting director Graeme Lowdon spent a few minutes explaining how the team plan to dig themselves out of a disappointing start to the season. Virgin have proved the truism in the view that a team's second season is tougher than their first. But they are trying out a new aerodynamics-influencing exhaust system here for the second race, after it caused the back of the car to overheat in Turkey. It has not been the smoothest morning for Timo Glock, who is trying out the new parts in first practice while team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio runs old parts."

1000: As Williams confirm that Maldonado's session has come to an end with half an hour to go, the Red Bull team radio tells championship leader Sebastian Vettel that "we will not use Kers". That old Red Bull Achilles heel still dogs them a bit, not quite sure how long Kers will be deactivated for on Vettel's car.

BBC 5 Live analyst Maurice Hamilton: "Once Maldonado got off line there was just no grip whatsover. He lost it on the dirty side of the track. That's very embarassing for him and very annoying. Maldonado needed a good clean weekend."

Someone has crashed
0955: Coming out of turn 13, Pastor Maldonado has gone straight left at a right-hander and collided with the tyre wall. Problems for the Williams man.

0954: Nico Rosberg is up to second, 1.237 seconds behind Mark Webber. Fernando Alonso is third, 1.338 behind the Australian. Vitaly Petrov [Renault] is the only man yet to set a time, despite having done three laps. On radio, Petrov says his tyres have been difficult to warm up.

Rachel T on Twitter: "F1 needs to get to the place where the best driver wins and not always the best car. Far fetched I know, but so much more exciting."
Isn't that what everyone within the sport, deep down, would like to see? But I don't see how it can't happen unless you put everybody in the same car...

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "Jenson Button says he expects a 'busy morning' on Friday as his McLaren team run through the aerodynamic changes made to their car for this track, which makes more call on that aspect of a Formula 1 car than perhaps anywhere else. 'We've got a lot of updates here,' Button said. 'The stuff we were going to put on the car in Turkey, makes the car look a little bit more sexy - and faster, obviously. So that's on the car, and also the updates we were always going to bring to Barcelona.' "

Marcus Bernard on Twitter: "I hope Hamilton can perform this weekend. Seb is at risk of making F1 too dull."
I guess one of sport's great paradoxes is that you need great champions, like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, but when they get so good some people feel an air of inevitability detracts from their pleasure...

0942: Webber loves this track - he took a scorching pole here 12 months ago and went on to take the flag in the race for Red Bull. The Australian is laying down another ominous marker in first practice. He has beaten his own fastest time of 1:25.142, ahead of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who is 1.458 seconds adrift. Jenson Button's McLaren is almost two seconds back in third.

0939: BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz has been trying to find out why Lewis Hamilton came back to his garage a bit early after his first sortie, and here's what he's gleaned for us: "The focus is on the right rear of Hamilton's car. He also complained of moving around on the team radio which they've traced to the seat being loose. And I can see that they are just changing the brake cyclinder too."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anonymous texter: "DRS has been very controversial. Personally, I think it makes passing too easy. Under the old rules, drivers like Lewis Hamilton showed you can pass if you have the skill and the attitude... The solution? Use the DRS in the opposite way, so you are able to use it around the whole lap on race day provided you are within a second at the start of a new lap, except on the main straights."

0933: With the inevitability of rain on a Bank Holiday Monday, here comes a Red Bull with the fastest lap of the day so far, Mark Webber registering a 1:25.473. Perez has just lost second berth to Jenson Button, for what it's worth.

0929: A reminder of who's done what in the last few years here. Mark Webber won last year from pole, Jenson Button reached the chequered flag first in 2009 while Kimi Raikonnen won it in 2008. The 2007 race was a triumph for Felipe Massa and Renault's Fernando Alonso did the job in 2006. So, no wins for Mr Vettel so far in Spain. Will that provide some comfort to his rivals this weekend?

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "The big talking point of the weekend so far has been Fernando Alonso signing an extension to his Ferrari contract until the end of 2016. It is, as McLaren's Jenson Button pointed out 'a long time', but just as intriguingly it effectively means neither Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel can drive for Ferrari for the next five years even if they wanted to. Hamilton's reaction? 'I don't have a drama being alongside him,' he said. 'But I assume he wouldn't allow it to be the other way around. I don't really care. I'll beat him in another car.' "

0922: Please refresh your browser to alleviate a small error in the previous entry. Thank you. Lewis Hamilton splits the two Saubers with his fastest lap of the weekend so far.

0919: Mexico's very own Speedy Gonzalez is Sergio Perez, and he slams down a 1:29.577 to head the times for Sauber, with team-mate Kamui Kobayashi tucking in behind him. Less impressive stuff from Lewis Hamilton, who slides off the race line momentarily after a slight error in judgement in his McLaren.

Williams team on Twitter: "Rubens & Pastor testing our new and old rear wings to compare performance, front wings that we ran in Turkey on as well."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "I've been at Red Bull garage to see what update they have here but they aren't showing their hand yet. I know they have some new wheel rims here because I saw them being delivered this morning. The rumour was that the rims were going to have circular fins which clean up the air flow around the car. But Red Bull have normal wheel rims for this practice and we'll have to see if they have them on later. Red Bull also have some nice new rear brake ducts. They aren't stupid; they are bringing performance to their car as well."
Andy Stevenson, Force India team manager: "We've come, as many teams have, with lots of updates we need to try. It's easier logistically because Spain is closer to our base in England. Adrian [Sutil] is in almost a brand new car with a modified aero package to test out the reliabilty and also to test it against the car Nico [Hulkenberg] is driving. Our expectations are to get into Q3 and get as high as we can."

0911: Felipe Massa has laid down the earliest of markers with a quick lap. So maybe, just maybe, Jed [below] is on to something. Massa's best pal in the paddock, Michael Schumacher, now goes quickest in his Mercedes.

Jed McManus on Twitter: "Ferrari's weekend in my opinion. Would be great to see them consistently getting great results again, seems like ages since they did."

0905: Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel are among the leading drivers laying down a bit of rubber now. It's pretty busy out there with the Virgins and Lotuses also on track.

0900: So the first few cars are out now. We'll keep you across any important developments. Mercedes and McLaren are among the teams still sorting stuff out in the garages.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Paul from Essex: "Good luck to Lotus with the new upgrades, it would be fantastic to see them in the midfield somewhere!"

0850: Ten minutes before the pitlane opens, a scan of the most newsworthy items in F1 over the past 24 hours brings me this little snippet: Force India's Adrian Sutil admits he is having a "difficult time" following the news that he faces legal action for an incident in a nightclub.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "This is the 20th anniversary of the first Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1991, a race that has become famous for the spectacular wheel-to-wheel duel between Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell down to the first corner. I missed that event, but I did make the second in 1992, when Mansell made light of torrential rain to run away from the field. Coming back here for the umpteenth time, it's like slipping into a comfortable shoe, but with so much going on this weekend there is no time to relax."

Force India on Twitter: "We continue to evaluate our new aero concept today. Adrian Sutil will try the new parts in FP1, while @NicoHulkenberg will run the old spec."
...but just to clarify, Paul di Resta takes over from Hulkenberg this afternoon.

0845: What, you may ask, is a "new generation" grand prix circuit? In case you didn't know, this is the first of the tracks that was built with government money specifically to promote a region/country and to go on to become a mainstay of the calendar.

0843: Quick point of order concerning our commentary team. Anthony Davidson is on paternity leave - he became a father on Wednesday, so congratulations Anthony! - so it's Maurice Hamilton joining David Croft today, while Karun Chandhok will be in the chair for Radio 5 live for qualifying and race day itself.

Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Morning from the paddock. New diffuser and exhausts on the car and looking good, let's hope they will be reliable first time out."

0835: Actually, it isn't always sunny in Spain. I remember one Easter in Andalucia in the late 1990s of spectacular downpours and in January 2001 my attempts to board the ferry from Algeciras to the northern Morocco coast were dashed by storms. Anyway, I'll try to leave the irrelevant stuff out and concentrate on the cars for now.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson in Barcelona: "It's a fabulous morning here at the Circuit de Catalunya. The Mediterranean was shimmering at breakfast under almost cloudless blue skies and the foothills of the Pyrenees form a spectacular backdrop to what could be called the first of the new generation of grand prix circuits. But who will the sun shine on this weekend? Will Red Bull, who ran away with this race last year, continue their domination of F1 this season, or can Ferrari or McLaren trip them up? The first hints of an answer will emerge in practice on Friday morning."

The sun is out
0830: Good morning. It's sunny in north-east Spain (isn't it always that way?) for the first of today's two free practice sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya. The drivers hit the tarmac at 0900, and they should know these bends and straights pretty well - it's the third time they've been to this track on the outskirts of Barcelona this season following testing in mid-February and early March.

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Live Leaderboard


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
Hamilton challenges Red Bull pace
20 May 11 |  Formula One
Button hopes to match Red Bulls
19 May 11 |  Formula One
Alonso signs new Ferrari contract
19 May 11 |  Formula One
Sutil affected by legal complaint
23 May 11 |  Formula One
Formula 1 enjoys bumper profits
18 May 11 |  Business
Lotus bullish on diffuser update
19 May 11 |  Formula One
Teams win delay in technology ban
18 May 11 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1

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