Fernando Alonso has gone fastest in the opening practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix

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.

Alexander Rossi Dani Clos

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:24.430   20
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:24.808 + 0.378 18
3. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:24.912 + 0.482 28
4. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:24.996 + 0.566 24
5. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:25.120 + 0.690 24
6. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:25.187 + 0.757 15
7. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:25.217 + 0.787 16
8. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:25.252 + 0.822 20
9. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:25.285 + 0.855 29
10. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:25.339 + 0.909 24
11. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:25.367 + 0.937 22
12. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:25.433 + 1.003 21
13. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:25.539 + 1.109 23
14. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:25.607 + 1.177 24
15. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:25.918 + 1.488 19
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:26.226 + 1.796 24
17. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:26.297 + 1.867 18
18. Jules Bianchi FRA Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:26.630 + 2.200 21
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:27.475 + 3.045 20
20. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:28.267 + 3.837 21
21. Alexander Rossi USA Caterham Renault CT01 1:28.448 + 4.018 25
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:28.663 + 4.203 22
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:29.107 + 4.677 19
24. Dani Clos ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:31.618 + 7.188 19

A double-billing of F1 and V8s at Abu Dhabi!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.