Filippi and Hulkenberg on top in practice German fast in the wet, Italian in the dry in Portugal Newly crowned champion Nico Hulkenberg set the pace in the wet first free practice session this morning in Portimao, but as the track dried in the...
Filippi and Hulkenberg on top in practice
German fast in the wet, Italian in the dry in Portugal
Newly crowned champion Nico Hulkenberg set the pace in the wet first free practice session this morning in Portimao, but as the track dried in the second session it was Luca Filippi who claimed the top spot as the clock ran out, ahead of Davide Valsecchi and Diego Nunes.
Rain started falling just before the first session opened, handing the drivers a further complication as they went out to learn the new circuit. Hulkenberg led for much of the session: Filippi, Alberto Valerio and Dani Clos briefly claiming the top spot during the session, but the German ultimately stopped the clock at 1:50.343, three tenths ahead of Valerio and Filippi.
With two sessions in quick succession and the conditions against them, the drivers were notably conservative as they circulated. While there were no notable off track excursions Michael Herck had to retire early with mechanical gremlins, and Vitaly Petrov and Johnny Cecotto ended the session a lap early when they came together at the hairpin, both gesticulating wildly at the other as the marshals approached to push the cars off the circuit.
The rain had stopped by this time, and with the second session opening 30 minutes later a dry line soon formed. Lucas di Grassi and local hero Alvaro Parente initially led the laptimes, but it wasn't until the final ten minutes that the circuit was dry enough to really push.
Giedo van der Garde was squirming around the track but cutting the times every time he crossed the start line, with Hulkenberg and Valsecchi providing competition at the top of the timesheets. But it was Filippi who was at the right place at the right time, cross the line on his final lap to claim a time of 1:32.894, six tenths ahead of countryman Valsecchi.
With the sun streaming onto the circuit as the field found their way back to the pits, the battle for pole this afternoon promises to be fierce as Hulkenberg looks to top off his season in style and the rest of the field try to close out the year with a win.