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Webber on top in opening practice

Mark Webber leads the way for Red Bull in the opening free practice session of the weekend at Interlagos
While his results in the past at Interlagos have been far from impressive, Mark Webber made the perfect start to the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend by posting the quickest time during first free practice.

In a truncated session, the Red Bull man emerged on top of the pile with a series of quick laps at the end of the 90 minutes track time, with a lap of 1min 12.463secs leaving him well clear of home favourite Rubens Barrichello.

With the prospect of rain in the air, the majority of the field hit the track earlier than usual for the first session of the weekend with Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel leading the way from Barrichello, Lewis Hamilton and Webber when rain started to fall just over half an hour in.

The shower forced the drivers to return to the pits but when they did venture back onto the track, it wasn't for long as Renault's Romain Grosjean ran wide and destroyed a marker board on the side of the circuit – bringing out the red flag while marshals cleared up the polystyrene that was littering the track.

The session resumed with little more than 20 minutes remaining with Webber going back to the top of the pile with a 1min 12.805secs lap – which would prove to be quicker than anyone else could manage.

With rain returning, a number of drivers suffered minor off-track excursions or spins – including Fernando Alonso and Barrichello – while Sebastien Buemi went backwards into the tyre wall and took the right rear wheel off his Toro Rosso.

Despite the challenging conditions, Webber was able to improve his best time by four-tenths of a second while Barrichello gave the home fans reason to cheer when he went second quickest late on to split the Red Bull pair out front, with Vettel settling for third.

Heikki Kovalainen was fourth quickest for McLaren ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton with Kazuki Nakajima rounding out the top six for Williams. The Japanese driver had caused a scare for Webber earlier in the session when he forced the Red Bull man to take avoiding action while completing a slow out lap from the pits.

Points leader Jenson Button was seventh quickest although he appeared to be battling with understeer on his car, while Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top ten.

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, returning to the F1 paddock for the first time since his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix, was an interested spectator from the pit wall during the session.

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