Rain played havoc with opening practice at the British Formula One Grand Prix yesterday, with only half of the grid posting a timed lap and most of the leading drivers remaining in their garages.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, eager to show Red Bull bosses what he can do now that there is a declared vacancy at the champions with Mark Webber departing at the end of the year, was top of the time sheets for Toro Rosso after completing 10 laps.
His best time of 1 minute, 54.249 seconds may have been so slow as to be meaningless, but the 23-year-old at least gave the long-suffering fans something to watch on a morning short of track action.
The Red Bull, Lotus and McLaren drivers did no more than installation laps.
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen did not bother even with that.
“Bit scary on the straight,” Red Bull’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by 36 points after seven of 19 races, said over the team radio. “Quite a lot of water on the track.”
“There isn’t much point heading out at the moment,” McLaren’s Jenson Button, who has yet to stand on his home Grand Prix podium, despite being the most experienced driver in the sport, told the BBC. “I think we need to apologize to the fans, but for us it is really wet out there and it is going to be dry at the weekend, so it is more a risk than anything else. We have some new parts, and with standing water it is pretty easy to hit the wall and damage those parts.”
Ricciardo was the first to set a time, some 15 minutes before the end of the session, and 10 others followed his example.
Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg was second on the time sheets, with Williams’ Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado third and Lewis Hamilton fourth for Mercedes.
Caterham’s French driver Charles Pic provided the only flicker of drama when he skidded off the slippery surface and into the tire wall at Club Corner, smashing his front wing.
The bad weather meant hopes of five British drivers on the track in the morning session came to nothing, with Force India abandoning plans to run their simulator tester James Rossiter instead of Germany’s Adrian Sutil.
With no meaningful data to be gained from running, the Silverstone-based team kept their cars in the garage.