Sebastian Vettel maintained his stranglehold at the Buddh International Circuit, topping the first practice session for the Indian Grand Prix ahead of team-mate Mark Webber as the German made the best possible start to the weekend which in all likelihood will see him win his fourth straight world title.
Vettel set a time of 1:26.683, just under two-tenths of a second quicker than his team-mate, with the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg a further two-tenths of a second adrift in third.
Romain Grosjean continued his recent run of strong form and ended the session fourth, the Frenchman itching for that first win after leading in the early stages of the last race in Japan.
Lewis Hamilton found some time late in the session to set the fifth-fastest lap in the second Mercedes ahead of the two McLarens of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.
Felipe Massa was the leading Ferrari in eighth, after team-mate Fernando Alonso was sidelined with a gearbox issue, ahead of Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas in the Williams who rounded out the top ten.
The session got off to a quiet start in sunny if hazy conditions with drivers content to come back in after their initial installation laps and wait for the green track to clean up before setting competitive times.
Sergio Perez was the first to set a flying lap nearly half an hour into the session, the Mclaren driver setting a tentative one minute 30.953 on his first attempt before eventually laying down an early benchmark time of 1:28.207.
There weren’t too many incidents as the drivers adapted to the 5.1 kilometer track on the outskirts of India’s capital New Delhi, with only Pastor Maldonado in the Williams and James Calado in the Force India — substituting for the unwell Paul Di Resta — providing some drama, the two drivers harmlessly spinning on the dusty surface.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.