Formula 1

Nico turns 28


Rosberg topped the times for Mercedes in Friday’s second free practice session at Silverstone ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

The German, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday, clocked a best lap of one minute and 32.248 seconds in improving drying conditions after a rainswept morning.

That time was enough to lift the Monaco Grand Prix victor almost three-tenths of a second clear of nearest rival Mark Webber of Red Bull, the Australian showing all the grit and commitment that has earned him four successive podium finishes at Silverstone.

After making public his decision to leave Formula One and move to sportscar racing with Porsche next year, Webber appeared to drive with great freedom and purpose on one of his favourite tracks.

The Australian’s Red Bull team-mate defending triple world champion Sebastian Vettel was third-quickest ahead of Britons Paul Di Resta of Force India and Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes.

Another Australian Daniel Ricciardo, tipped to be a contender for Webber’s seat in 2014, was sixth in the leading Toro Rosso ahead of his team-mate Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, another Red Bull possible.

Adrian Sutil was eighth in the second Force India ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean in the leading Lotus.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was down in 10th place while his team-mate Felipe Massa wound up 22nd and slowest after suffering a crash only 25 minutes into the 90-minutes session.

Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion who has never finished better than fourth in his home race in 13 years, was 11th for McLaren, two places better than 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, tipped as favourite to succeed Webber alongside Vettel next year.

After a cold and rainswept morning, which saw few cars clocking timed laps in opening practice, the afternoon was warmer and mostly drier with the air temperature hovering around 18 degrees.

The opening period saw most cars testing the conditions with intermediate wet tyres before switching over to mediums as a dry line emerged and encouraged faster times.

Massa, who has endured major crashes at the last two Grands Prix in Monaco and Montreal, hit the barriers again 25 minutes into the session when he lost control of his Ferrari in the exit from Stowe corner.

The crash left his car damaged and ruled him out of the rest of the session which, on a day when the team did little or no running in the morning, left Ferrari short of mileage.

At that time, Webber was the fastest man on track in his Red Bull before Rosberg set an early fastest lap around the 5.891 km circuit in one minute and 32.680 seconds.

Vettel dislodged his compatriot but was soon replaced himself as Rosberg made the most of the improving conditions to go quickest again in 1:32.248 and stay there.

Pos Driver                Team                  Time      Gap        Laps
 1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m32.248s             33
 2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m32.547s  + 0.299s   26
 3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m32.680s  + 0.432s   31
 4. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m32.832s  + 0.584s   34
 5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m32.911s  + 0.663s   28
 6. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m33.171s  + 0.923s   34
 7. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m33.290s  + 1.042s   38
 8. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m33.313s  + 1.065s   34
 9. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m33.322s  + 1.074s   38
10. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m33.494s  + 1.246s   32
11. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m33.740s  + 1.492s   29
12. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari        1m33.896s  + 1.648s   36
13. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m34.120s  + 1.872s   30
14. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes      1m34.130s  + 1.882s   29
15. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        1m34.998s  + 2.750s   32
16. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1m35.070s  + 2.822s   29
17. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m35.127s  + 2.879s   35
18. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth     1m35.802s  + 3.554s   27
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault      1m35.984s  + 3.736s   32
20. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault      1m36.079s  + 3.831s   35
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth     1m37.329s  + 5.081s   33
22. Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m43.466s  + 11.218s   7