Pastor Maldonado has ended the opening practice session on top of the timesheets

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.

Button struggled initially, losing time with a KERS issueThe 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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:40.890   22
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:40.973 + 0.083 21
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:40.984 + 0.094 19
4. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:40.994 + 0.104 19
5. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:41.065 + 0.175 26
6. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:41.105 + 0.215 15
7. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:41.117 + 0.227 22
8. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:41.158 + 0.268 18
9. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:41.182 + 0.292 21
10. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.620 + 0.730 21
11. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.784 + 0.894 15
12. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.838 + 0.948 19
13. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:41.861 + 0.971 16
14. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:42.109 + 1.219 20
15. Jules Bianchi FRA Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:42.175 + 1.285 21
16. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW34 1:42.299 + 1.409 24
17. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:42.442 + 1.552 26
18. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:42.758 + 1.868 26
19. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:42.777 + 1.887 28
20. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:43.209 + 2.319 19
21. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:44.173 + 3.283 18
22. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:44.996 + 4.106 15
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:45.120 + 4.230 23
24. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:45.338 + 4.448 7

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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.
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