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Motor Racing

Button and Hamilton off the pace as Red Bull take over

Red Bull dominated both practice sessions at Silverstone yesterday as drivers and their team engineers figured out the best way to tackle the new challenges of the revamped circuit.

Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the morning, but ended the afternoon 0.641 seconds away from team-mate Mark Webber who lapped in 1 minute 31.234sec while exhibiting zero lingering effects of his horrific backflip accident in the European Grand Prix at Valencia a fortnight ago.

In between them, Fernando Alonso was 0.334sec off Webber for Ferrari. But it was a difficult day for McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton eighth and Jenson Button only 13th.

"We spent both sessions running with the new components. I feel we've made a step forward from the last race," Hamilton said. "This circuit is a bit like Barcelona, where we were one second behind Red Bull – I don't think we'll be seeing that sort of gap tomorrow though, hopefully. We haven't got the optimum out of the car yet, there's still more to come."

Button said he remained positive despite his position. "We improved through the day, but there's still a lot of work to do, and we're not where we want to be with the balance yet."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who is fifth in the championship, is reading nothing into McLaren's problems. "It will be very close tomorrow – we saw at Valencia too that McLaren on Friday was far back in the second session and then on Saturday Hamilton was in front of us and Button right behind," Alonso said. "I think three or four teams will be fighting for positions.''