Wretched morning of qualifying for Hamilton

Wretched morning of qualifying for Hamilton

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton endured a wretched start to his German Grand Prix weekend as he crashed during a rain-hit first practice.

Rain had fallen over Hockenheim since 7.30am local time and did not finally relent until four hours later, 30 minutes into the session, and so resulting in pools of standing water across the track.

Despite being on wet tyres, a number of drivers were sent spinning given the conditions, with the biggest casualty being Hamilton.

After finally setting his first timed lap almost 65 minutes in, it was a session that did not last too much longer for the 25-year-old.

Coming slowly out of what is now known as Bernie Ecclestone Kurve, Hamilton did nothing more than put a wheel on a damp part of the circuit that at that time was beginning to show a drier line in places.

That immediately led to his McLaren getting out of shape, sending Hamilton sliding across the wet grass, and with understandably no traction he ploughed nose first into a barrier.

The impact, although not severe, was enough to send him spinning around, resulting in a second collision with the tyres that damaged his left-rear wheel.

Over the team radio Hamilton succinctly summed it up as he said: "The car's in the wall and is damaged - heavily."

It now puts his mechanics under pressure to ensure the car is repaired in time for the second practice session that starts at 2pm local time, 1pm BST.

Come the conclusion of the 90 minutes it was one of the six Germans on the grid this year in Adrian Sutil in his Force India who topped the standings with a lap of one minute 25.701secs.

That had come in the dying stages, with Sutil clearly finding the right set-up and line as he finished 1.149secs faster than Felipe Massa in his Ferrari.

The Brazilian has proved in the past he loathes the wet conditions, underlined by the fact he spun twice and went across the gravel on another occasion, but fortunately without damage.

On a brighter note for McLaren, reigning champion Jenson Button was third quickest, although under what circumstances is difficult to determine.

With the team's cars again sporting the performance-enhancing blown exhaust diffuser that was ditched after Friday's practice sessions for the British Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Button appeared far from happy after conducting a number of installation laps.

It resulted in frantic work in the garage and a change to the set-up that at least propelled Button up the timesheet late on, albeit on how much fuel is another matter.

Williams' Rubens Barrichello and Vitaly Petrov in his Renault were 1.2secs back, and split by a thousandth of a second, whilst Nico Rosberg for Mercedes was 1.7secs adrift.

Every other driver finished more than two seconds down on Sutil, with the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in 11th and 14th.

As for Michael Schumacher, a driver known as 'the rain-meister' in his heyday, the seven-times world champion was down in 23rd, almost seven seconds adrift of Sutil, with only rookie Sakon Yamamoto for Hispania Racing behind him by 0.341secs.

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