Fernando Alonso has delighted his Spanish fans with the fastest time in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, giving his Ferrari team an encouraging start in his heavily upgraded Ferrari. The two-time World Champion finished the session almost four-tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel.
With the circuit opening for business under glorious skies on what is set to be the hottest weekend of the season to-date, teams were given a great opportunity to further test their upgraded cars, while two teams opted to give some drivers their very first run on a Grand Prix weekend.
Caterham elected to give Formula Renault 3.5 racewinner Alexander Rossi his first outing in the CT01 in place of Heikki Kovalainen, while the HRT F1 gave reserve driver Dani Clos his maiden run in the F112 in place of Narain Karthikeyan. Force India gave Jules Bianchi another outing in its VJM05, while Williams’ promising reserve driver Valtteri Bottas went an impressive fifth-fastest.
It took a while before some serious lap times were posted, but Sebastian Vettel took his Red Bull RB8 to top spot for fifteen minutes, usurping long-time pace-setter Kamui Kobayashi. The pair would finish the session second- and third-fastest, respectively, with Alonso taking his Ferrari to top spot.
Fourth fastest on the timesheets was Jenson Button in the heavily-revised McLaren – sporting, among a host of upgrades, a new raised nose section – while Bottas, Michael Schumacher, Romain Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen and Nico Hülkenberg rounded out the top ten places. The likes of Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg finished outside the top-ten placings.
It was a session largely devoid of major incident, although HRT had a few issues on home soil. Pedro de la Rosa lost a bargeboard as he braked for Turn 1, while Clos’ running was curtailed before the end of the session when mechanical troubles struck.
2012 Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:24.430||20|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:24.808||+ 0.378||18|
|3.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:24.912||+ 0.482||28|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:24.996||+ 0.566||24|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW34||1:25.120||+ 0.690||24|
|6.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:25.187||+ 0.757||15|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:25.217||+ 0.787||16|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:25.252||+ 0.822||20|
|9.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:25.285||+ 0.855||29|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:25.339||+ 0.909||24|
|11.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:25.367||+ 0.937||22|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:25.433||+ 1.003||21|
|13.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:25.539||+ 1.109||23|
|14.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:25.607||+ 1.177||24|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:25.918||+ 1.488||19|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:26.226||+ 1.796||24|
|17.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:26.297||+ 1.867||18|
|18.||Jules Bianchi||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:26.630||+ 2.200||21|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:27.475||+ 3.045||20|
|20.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:28.267||+ 3.837||21|
|21.||Alexander Rossi||Caterham Renault CT01||1:28.448||+ 4.018||25|
|22.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:28.663||+ 4.203||22|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:29.107||+ 4.677||19|
|24.||Dani Clos||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:31.618||+ 7.188||19|