Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel suffered a setback today on day one of practice at the very wet 2011 Turkish Grand Prix, crashing at high speed into a barrier at Istanbul Park Circuit’s dreaded Turn Eight, a sharp left-hand corner with no less than three apexes.

Fortunately the German youngster was unhurt in the crash, though it caused the initial practice session to be red-flagged with just over 17 minutes to run. Vettel also lost practice time for the rest of the day as his RB7 race car was repaired.

Where Vettel lucked out, others gained, such as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who dominated the session by posting the fastest time. The Spaniard eventually ended 1.4 seconds ahead of Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in the first practice session.

As the day progressed the rain finally let up just as the second practice session was about to commence.

Former world champion Jenson Button managed to capitalize on the dryer conditions, positing a quickest time of 1 minute 26.456 seconds. Nico Rosberg and Button’s McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, still high from a win in China, were close behind.

Fernando Alonso didn’t manage to repeat his earlier performance, suffering a half spin and mechanical problems before finally posting a best time of 1 minute 28.069 seconds.

Going into tomorrow’s qualifying session and eventual race on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel leads the points table with 68 points, followed by Lewis Hamilton on 47 and Jenson Button on 38.

Stay tuned for our full race recap on Monday.