McLaren in mix despite Hamilton's narrow escape

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The Independent Online

Red Bull's Mark Webber set the pace here yesterday, as half a second covered the Australian and rivals Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, and the notoriously changeable weather did its best to disrupt things.

In between rain showers Webber lapped in 1minute 50.321sec, with Alonso on 1:50.461, Button 1:50.770 and Hamilton 1:50.838. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel was 10th on 1:51.790. As Webber reported working "mainly on housekeeping, like ride heights and brake balance", Button said: "Despite the changeable weather, I think we learnt quite a bit today. I tried a couple of different rear wing combinations today – and each had their positives and negatives. The Red Bulls are very strong in the middle sector, but we're definitely in good shape overall."

Hamilton echoed his thoughts, but said he felt lucky to avoid an accident. "I had a big moment on the approach to Blanchimont in P1. I drove across a small river on the track – I must have been doing around 150mph – and I had a huge tank-slapper. I'm glad I was alert enough to correct it, otherwise we could have ended up with all four corners and both wings knocked off the car!

"The top three or four teams all look competitive; now our challenge is to make the right choices with the wings and downforce levels."

As Ayrton Senna's nephew Bruno set the 17th fastest time after returning to race duty for the first time since 2010 with the Renault team, the man he replaced confirmed that he would be taking legal action to get back into "his" car in Singapore. Nick Heidfeld's legal representative Dr Stefan Seitz said: "The interlocutory decision of the court does not infringe on the fact that Nick has a valid contract to be one of the two main drivers of the team. This position is disputed by the team for apparently purely financial reasons. We do not intend to rest before Nick's legal position has been fully restored."

Meanwhile, Silverstone Circuit is believed to have been leased out to a private bidder for around $400m (£245m) for 100 years. The owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, have confirmed that former racer Derek Warwick has been appointed president to succeed outgoing Damon Hill, and a new deal would allow the club to implement its recently revealed development plan which includes three hotels and a heritage centre.