ROBERT KUBICA/Renault was the fastest driver in the first practice session, with a lap of 1:26.927. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER’S record of 1:24.125 set in 2004 is safe for now. The day started out hot and sunny and worked up to 86 F/30 C before dropping and cooling off for F1 practice, to 75 F/24C. The skies clouded over and the wind decidedly came up. All 24 drivers were on course.

NICO ROSBERG/Mercedes was second, followed by 2009 World Champion JENSON BUTTON/McLaren, FELIPE MASSA/Ferrari, and SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Red Bull Racing. Schumacher was thirteenth, just ahead of local hero MARK WEBBER/RBR in fourteenth.

For the second session, no one could catch LEWIS HAMILTON/McLaren at 1:25.801. He was the first and only driver to break into the 25’s. Eight drivers topped Kubica’s time. The weather conditions were decidedly different. It threatened rain on and off, posing a tire dilemma for the teams – not wet enough for intermediates and not dry enough for slicks. The rain eased and the majority of the drivers went on course.Then the rain started in earnest, but soon passed. The temperature was 71 F/22 C, but it certainly felt much cooler.

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER/Mercedes, LUCAS di GRASSI/Virgin Racing, BRUNO SENNA/HRT, and TIMO GLOCK/Virgin still hadn’t turned a time by the halfway mark. The Virgin drivers hadn’t expected to go out at all. Glock had a gear box leak, Di Grassi had mechanical problems. Senna had a fuel pressure problem.

Then…Schumacher went out and was the slowest car on course. That didn’t last long. All of a sudden, he shot up to third overall where he remained until the end when Webber pipped him and they traded places.

Several car had offs in the first session, including RBR. He then neatly executed a Formula One U-Turn in the run off area. You don’t get to see that often.

KAMUI KOBAYASHI/Sauber lost his front wing twice. The first time he ran over a kerb, and in the second, he lost the front wing, swerving wildly into Turn Three where he stopped, after scattering debris everywhere. He caused a Red Flag.

Force India’s test/reserve driver, PAUL Di RESTA of Scotland, replaced ADRIAN SUTIL for the first session, and finished eleventh. Sutil placed seventh in the second practice.

In the second session, on his out lap, KARUN CHANDHOK/HRT didn’t travel far. He stopped on course at Turn One and left his car.