Vitaly Petrov started his Nurburgring race weekend in fine style by claiming top spot in Friday morning's chilly free practice session, claiming an early four-tenths advantage over Nico Hülkenberg and Roldan Rodriguez.
The Russian's best lap of 1min 38:752secs was the only one to dip under the 1min 39secs bracket occupied by the next ten drivers, and more than two seconds faster than Timo Glock's 2007 pole time despite the substantially lower temperatures, albeit ignoring the fact that this year's tyres are softer than the medium compounds used during the series last visit to the German circuit.
Luca Filippi was the fastest man on track during the opening laps of the session, but Petrov was not to be denied, establishing himself in top spot on the ten-minute mark after finding a pace that was not to be bettered. Rodriguez, and then Hülkenberg, set their best times shortly afterwards, while Andreas Zuber spun to a halt across the pit-lane entrance, delaying his rivals' return to the pits for one more lap while the marshals moved the stricken vehicle.
Petrov stayed out longer than anyone else, maintaining his pace as he went, but the field were unable to make best use of their second set of tyres after Nelson Panciatici spun to a halt at turn four, prompting a long yellow flag period. Even though that obstacle was cleared before the half hour was up, any hope of a last lap improvement were dashed by Luiz Razia making heavy contact with the barriers as the clock ran out.
Razia, Zuber and Panciatici ended the session 13th, 16th and 25th respectively, but the times were typically close in the top ten, with Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Lucas di Grassi, Filippi and Alvaro Parente slotting in just behind the top three drivers, and ninth-placed Edoardo Mortara completing the list of those within a second of the pace.
Silverstone feature race winner Alberto Valerio was only 15th fastest as team-mate Rodriguez took the early upper hand at Piquet GP, while Nurburgring 'newcomers' Franck Perera and Rodolfo Gonzalez showed their lack of track time in the current GP2 machine by clocking in in 23rd and 24th respectively.