Lewis Hamilton did just enough to finish on top of FP1, nine-thousandths of a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel.
FP1 was busier than usual with teams taking advantage of Pirelli’s 2013 prototype tyres, which were available today in addition to the 2012 specifications. Hamilton set his fastest lap of 1:14.131, 20 minutes into the session with the experimental rubber on his McLaren. Vettel got to within three-tenths of a second early in his run on the same 2013 tyres, and closed to within 0.009s after putting the 2012 hard tyre on the Red Bull.
Mark Webber would complete the top three in the second Red Bull and Jenson Button finished P4 in the other McLaren. All four men were within a tenth of a second. There was then a gap of two-tenths back to the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso is P5 who was three-tenths up on his team-mate Felipe Massa. Massa was the only spinner of the session, rotating his car at Pinheirinho as the session drew to its conclusion. Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hülkenberg completed the top ten.
Valtteri Bottas was the first man to set a time, the Williams tester did an extended installation at the start of the session and recored a time of 1:21.218. Sergio Pérez opted to go out early for his first run and soon knocked the benchmark down to 1:15.869 before Hamilton appeared and set about taking large chunks out of that time. One name absent from the early running was that of Kimi Räikkönen. The Finn reported engine issues on his installation lap and returned to the garage. Lotus got him running towards the end of the session but the 2007 World Champion only managed 16 laps, whereas most runners got into the thirties. Also frugal with their time on track were the HRTs. Pedro de la Rosa managed 15 laps and Narain Karthikeyan 13.
Michael Schumacher in his final race finished FP1 in 11th, just ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, Pérez and Bottas. Daniel Ricciardo with fifteenth ahead of Räikkönen and Ricciardo’s Red Bull team-mate Jean-Eric Verge was 17th. Nico Rosberg could only managed 18th and behind him came Caterham tester Giedo van der Garde. He was followed by the Marussia of Timo Glock, Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham, Charles Pic for Marussia and then de la Rosa and Karthikeyan bringing up the rear.