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F1: Hamilton sets early pace in Germany

  • Story Highlights
  • Lewis Hamilton fastest in Friday's free practice for German Grand Prix
  • Reigning world champion is trailing in this year's F1 title race
  • Sebastian Vettel and title leader Jenson Button second and third fastest
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(CNN) -- Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in Friday's free practice for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Hamitton was all smiles after an improved performance at the Nurburgring.

Hamitton was all smiles after an improved performance at the Nurburgring.

Hamilton has endured a miserable season in his underperforming McLaren-Mercedes but impressed with a time of one minute 32.249 seconds to edge out home driver Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) in the timesheets.

It was the third time that the 24-year-old British driver has been quickest in Friday practice, but he has failed to convert the early good form into points.

Current championship leader Jenson Button was third for Brawn GP ahead of Australian Mark Webber, who powered his Red Bull to fastest time in the morning session.

Italian Jarno Trulli claimed fifth for Toyota and another German, Adrian Sutil, was sixth for Force India.

Button's Brawn teammate Brazil's Rubens Barrichello finished seventh fastest ahead of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain (Renault).

Button, who saw Vettel cut his championship lead after victory in the preceding British Grand Prix, was second in the morning practice, leaving many to predict that qualifying and Sunday's race will again be dominated by the Brawns and Red Bull.

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The two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen again disappointed with 12th and 16th best.

Saturday sees official qualifying and where a better indication of the respective pace of the teams will be revealed.

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