Sebastian Vettel was the quickest driver in final practice at the Spanish Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has set the pace in the final practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix, ahead of this afternoon’s all-important qualifying session.

In another closely-fought session where just 1.2 seconds covered fourteen drivers, the timesheets features a few unusual names at the sharp end with some teams and drivers clearly electing to save tyre compounds ahead of qualifying and the race.

Sauber’s Sergio Pérez led the way early on with an effort on Pirelli’s harder tyre, before several competitors eventually elected for a few qualifying simulations on the softer option compound. The Mexican was usurped by both Nico Rosberg and Jean-Éric Vergne on soft tyres, before Pérez made the switch and moved back to the top of the order.

The final two minutes of the session saw more changes, with Pérez beaten by both Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi, before Pastor Maldonado posted a rapid 1:23.336 time in his Williams.

The Venezuelan’s top spot would last just a few seconds, with Vettel coming around on his final tour to beat his time by 0.168 seconds, despite being held up at the clumsy RACC Chicane.

That left Maldonado, Kobayashi, Webber and Pérez completing the top five places, ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vergne, and fastest McLaren driver Jenson Button. Button’s team-mate Lewis Hamilton ended up an unrepresentative 16th-fastest, with his hot lap ruined by traffic.

There was some drama in the Lotus F1 team with Romain Grosjean being forced to park his E20 challenger on the circuit when it was hit with a fuel pressure problem.

Timo Glock was also forced to park his Marussia in the closing minutes of the session when his left-rear wheel appeared to loosen on his car.

2012 Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:23.168   13
2. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:23.336 + 0.168 19
3. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:23.350 + 0.182 19
4. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:23.578 + 0.410 16
5. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:23.742 + 0.574 22
6. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:23.807 + 0.639 15
7. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:23.833 + 0.665 14
8. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:23.909 + 0.741 13
9. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:23.969 + 0.768 16
10. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:24.070 + 0.902 23
11. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:24.179 + 1.011 16
12. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:24.323 + 1.155 17
13. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:24.331 + 1.163 15
14. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:24.409 + 1.241 18
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:24.599 + 1.431 15
16. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:24.778 + 1.610 15
17. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:24.825 + 1.657 17
18. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:25.911 + 2.743 20
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:26.587 + 3.419 20
20. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:27.469 + 4.301 18
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:27.689 + 4.521 16
22. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:28.207 + 5.039 24
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:28.373 + 5.205 13
24. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 no time   2

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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.