Webber leads the way at wet Silverstone

Silverstone: Australians were first and last in a wet first practice for the British Grand Prix on Friday with Red Bull`s Mark Webber quickest and debutant Daniel Ricciardo slowest for stragglers HRT.

Webber, last year`s winner at Silverstone after angrily accusing Red Bull of favouring team mate Sebastian Vettel, lapped the revised layout with a best time of one minute 46.603 seconds towards the end of the session as conditions improved.

Reigning world champion and runaway title favourite Vettel, who has won six of eight races to build up a 77-point lead over McLaren`s Jenson Button and Webber, languished in 13th place.

It was not all plain sailing for Webber, with the Australian parking up at the end of the session at turn two and stepping out before marshals pushed the car away.

A team spokeswoman said it had been a precautionary stop, everything was OK, and Webber would be fine for the afternoon session. The Australian will be chasing his first win of the year in Sunday`s race.

The main drama of the first session was provided by Japan`s Kamui Kobayashi, who crashed his Sauber on the straight opposite the new pit and paddock complex with 15 minutes remaining.

The car was extensively damaged after it spun on the wet kerbs, pitched high and almost rolled on the runoff before smashing sideways into the tyre wall.

Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, who had told reporters on Thursday that he hoped for rain, was second quickest for Mercedes and 0.660 off Webber`s pace.

His former Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello was third for Williams, ahead of Mexican rookie Sergio Perez in the Sauber.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was the fastest of the Ferraris, in fifth place with Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso seventh.

Britain`s hopes, McLaren`s 2008 and 2009 world champions Lewis Hamilton and Button, were eighth and 15th respectively although the wet conditions meant little could be read into the times.

Ricciardo, who has taken part in Friday practice for Toro Rosso this season, was making his debut as a race driver with Hispania (HRT). His time was more than a second slower than Italian team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Two Australians have not started a Formula One race together since Austria in 1977, when one of them -- Alan Jones -- was the winner.

The session was the first since a clampdown came into force on the use of engine maps and exhausts to gain aerodynamic advantage.

Some teams may be more affected than others, given the different characteristics of the engines.

Bureau Report

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