Former GP2 points leader Davide Valsecchi began his quest to regain the series lead in the best possible fashion by topping free practice at Hockenheim on Friday morning for the DAMS team.
The session began in dry conditions, but leaden skies threatened to unload and there were spots of rain from the start. First victim was Johnny Cecotto Jr of Addax, who spun through 180-degrees at the Nordkurve on his first flying lap, and Arden's Simon Trummer almost followed suit seconds later.
Esteban Gutierrez of Lotus and Marcus Ericsson of iSport traded top spot early on, but it was points leader Luiz Razia (Arden) who hammered home the first truly representative P1 time, a 1m24.151s. That was demoted moments later by Valsecchi's 1m24.031s, 0.12 seconds faster.
Gutierrez was third fastest on 1m24.269s, just 0.02s quicker than Coloni's Stefano Coletti. Both Gutierrez and team-mate James Calado have a 10-place grid penalty hanging over them going into Friday afternoon's qualifying period for misdemeanours at Silverstone.
The session was interrupted by a sizeable accident sustained by Giancarlo Serenelli's Lazarus entry. He ran wide onto the damp Astroturf on the exit of the corner entering the stadium section and clipped the grass, which spun him across the track and into the tyre wall on the inside of the corner. He slammed into the wall, tearing the left-front wheel off as he spun around three times.
The Venezuelan was able to climb out of his car unaided, but was taken to the medical centre for a check-up. When the session was restarted, sufficient rain had fallen to render the remaining running time pretty useless.