Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado has bounced back to the top of the timesheets, posting the quickest lap time in the opening practice session for the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia.
In one of the most closely-fought practice sessions of the season, less than three-tenths of a second covered the fastest nine drivers, while less than a second covered the fastest thirteen.
Conditions proved slippery despite some early practice activity from the supporting GP3 and GP2 championship categories, and most of the runners remained in the garage for the first half-hour in the hope that someone else would help sweep the circuit of its dust.
It was until just under an hour to go when Kimi Räikkönen ventured out to post the first representative in his Lotus, and that triggered more activity in the other garages, with the Finn’s effort better by team-mate Romain Grosjean and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
Maldonado then moved into the top spot, while Fernando Alonso delighted the local fans with a time good enough to move him into a preliminary second-fastest effort, until he was overtaken by both of the Red Bull Racing entries.
The Spaniard was also overcome by Jenson Button, who started the session running Lewis Hamilton’s base set-up in the hope that this could help ease some of his recent set-up dramas he’s been experiencing at recent Grands Prix. The Englishman suffered several lock-ups – and later a KERS issue – before he got himself sorted and posted the fourth-fastest time. Team-mate Lewis Hamilton finished eighth-quickest.
2012 European Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:40.890||22|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:40.973||+ 0.083||21|
|3.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:40.984||+ 0.094||19|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:40.994||+ 0.104||19|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:41.065||+ 0.175||26|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:41.105||+ 0.215||15|
|7.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:41.117||+ 0.227||22|
|8.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:41.158||+ 0.268||18|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:41.182||+ 0.292||21|
|10.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:41.620||+ 0.730||21|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:41.784||+ 0.894||15|
|12.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:41.838||+ 0.948||19|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:41.861||+ 0.971||16|
|14.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:42.109||+ 1.219||20|
|15.||Jules Bianchi||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:42.175||+ 1.285||21|
|16.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW34||1:42.299||+ 1.409||24|
|17.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:42.442||+ 1.552||26|
|18.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:42.758||+ 1.868||26|
|19.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:42.777||+ 1.887||28|
|20.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:43.209||+ 2.319||19|
|21.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:44.173||+ 3.283||18|
|22.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:44.996||+ 4.106||15|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:45.120||+ 4.230||23|
|24.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:45.338||+ 4.448||7|
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