The three hours of running (taking into account both practice sessions) resulted in two three-place grid penalties, a completely wrecked Marussia Virgin car and a dog running on the track. All in all probably the most eventful Friday practice sessions the Formula One grid have encountered in recent times.
Lewis Hamilton topped the morning session with a lap of 1m26.836sec. A little over 2 kmh over the average speed of 210 kmh that the front running F1 cars were expected to set at the brand new 5.125 km Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.The time was, however, disallowed and the McLaren driver handed a three place penalty on the starting grid for not slowing down when double yellow flags were waved on the back straight between turns three and four. The flags were waved in order to allow the marshals to lift Pastor Maldonado's Williams to safety after it stopped on the track following an engine failure. Sauber's Sergio Perez was found guilty of a similar transgression and was also handed a three place starting grid penalty.
The first practice session was also temporarily halted when a stray dog found its way on to the track. The dog was safely removed to allow the session to continue in which Karun Chandhok and Narain Karthikeyan shared the track with mixed results. While Karthikeyan managed to set a time just 0.185 seconds slower than HRT teammate Daniel Ricciardo, Chandhok was 1.669 seconds slower than his Team Lotus teammate Jarno Trulli. Chandhok did not participate in the second session while Karthikeyan managed to narrow the gap to Ricciardo to 0.056 seconds.
Crash & bang
The second session was temporarily suspended after Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio crashed heavily after coming out of turn 11 when his rear tyres lost grip on the exit of the corner, resulting in the car going sideways before the tyres found grip once more causing his car to be launched across the grass and into the retaining barrier.
Felipe Massa topped the second session with a time of 1m25.706sec while his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso recovered from a loss of power that forced him to retire from the morning session to set the third fastest time. In second place in both sessions was defending double world champion Sebastian Vettel who was ominously just 0.088 seconds behind Massa in the second session.
The head of Pirelli Motorsport Paul Hembrey said that the track had become significantly cleaner throughout the course of the day but that drivers should expect to be on their toes tomorrow as well. "Our main concern is that the wind will blow the dust back on to the racing lines at night again," said Hembrey. "That will influence what drivers to for qualifying and the race."
The effect of the dust seemed most apparent at the left-right section through turns six and seven where drivers like Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Trulli, Perez, amongst others went off the track after losing grip on the exit of turn six.