Red Bulls set pace at Silverstone

Ian Parkes,Pa
Saturday 07 December 2013 03:24

The British Grand Prix weekend today began in earnest, despite the current turmoil engulfing the sport.

The threat of a breakaway series may be in the offing but there is still a Formula One world title at stake.

In front of his home crowd at Silverstone, Jenson Button is aiming to build on his 26-point lead at the top of the drivers' standings but it would seem Red Bull Racing are aiming to steal his thunder.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were a comfortable one-two at the end of the opening practice session at the Northamptonshire track.

Webber led the way until the dying moments with a lap of one minute 19.682 seconds, only to see out the 90-minute period with a degree of frustration.

Initially, Vettel knocked Webber off top spot by 0.282secs and then, as the Australian pulled into his pit box after completing his final in-lap, wisps of smoke were seen coming from the engine.

Despite that, the Red Bull duo - with their cars sporting a new and significantly improved package - were head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Button, with his sights on setting Silverstone alight with a seventh win from eight races, was third quickest, but finished 0.545secs adrift.

Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello was in close attendance on a circuit he loves, just a further 0.015secs behind the 29-year-old Briton.

Renault's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in his Ferrari were just over a second behind young German Vettel, with Jarno Trulli in his Toyota seventh.

As for world champion Lewis Hamilton, who won the race here last year by a remarkable margin of 68 seconds in the wet, he was eighth fastest in his McLaren, 1.1250secs down.

Ordinarily this season that gap has been enough to separate the entire 20-car field but not on this occasion given the dominance of the Red Bulls.

Williams' Nico Rosberg, who has been the hot shot in practice this season, was ninth, followed by the Force India duo of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil.

Heikki Kovalainen was 12th for McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen 14th in his Ferrari, with the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica again trailing at the rear, a yawning 2.401secs behind Vettel.

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