|Massa finished ahead of Vettel in practice after an eventful day at the new circuit [GALLO/GETTY]|
Lewis Hamilton suffered the wrath of the Formula One stewards once again on Friday when he was handed
a three-place penalty on the starting grid for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix after ignoring yellow warning flags in first
The McLaren driver had set the fastest lap, in the final seconds, in the first ever session run at the Buddh International circuit.
However, it was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa – a driver who has had a couple of clashes with Hamilton this season – who finished fastest in the second practice session.
Despite a fluttering front wing, Massa’s time of 25.706 proved good enough for top spot and was 0.088 seconds better than the fastest time of world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Local lad Narain Karthikeyan finished bottom of the pile, with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher way down in 21st.
Sanctions and strays
Sauber’s Mexican Sergio Perez was also handed a similar sanction after stewards ruled he had committed the same offence of ignoring double waved yellow flags at turn 16 while a car was being recovered by marshals in close proximity to the track.
The sanction ended Hamilton’s hopes of a second successive pole position on Saturday after qualifying fastest in the last race in South Korea.
It also boosted Red Bull’s chances of setting a Formula One record of 16 poles in a single season. The champions have already chalked up 15.
Hamilton has made regular appearances in front of the stewards this season after a series of crashes and controversies.
One of the four stewards for Sunday’s grand prix is Hamilton’s fellow-Briton and former racer Johnny Herbert.
On a historic day for motorsport in the world’s second most populous nation, the $450 million facility fired up the
country’s long-awaited first grand prix weekend with the colours of the national flag leading the way.
|The start of India’s first ever practice session went to the dogs after a track invasion [GALLO/GETTY]|
The first car out of the pitlane was the saffron, white and green Force India, driven by Germany’s Adrian Sutil.
It was followed closely by Team Lotus’s Indian reserve Karun Chandhok, the second Force India of Paul di Resta and then Indian racer Karthikeyan in the HRT.
Chandhok, who will not race on Sunday, had the honour of setting the first timed lap.
“It’s an emotional moment for all of us,” Force India team principal Vijay Mallya told reporters.
“There was a lot of speculation about whether the track would be ready and the event has had its fair share of controversy after what happened with the Commonwealth Games, but we’re ready. It’s a great track and the drivers love it.”
A large black stray dog appeared on the main pit straight, one of the longest in the sport, shortly before the session was due to start.
Another appeared minutes into the session, causing it to be red-flagged for safety reasons for five minutes while the
offending canine was rounded up.
Both titles have already been decided, with Vettel and Red Bull retaining their crowns, and Sunday’s race will be a simple battle for victory between the usual suspects as well as a fight among mid-table teams for vital points.
Many of the drivers’s cars and helmets carried the logos and numbers of British racer Dan Wheldon and Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, who both died in accidents since the previous Korean Grand Prix.