Sebastian Vettel was fastest in Friday's second practice at Valencia

Sebastian Vettel has claimed top spot on the timesheets at the end of the opening day’s running for this year’s European Grand Prix at Valencia. The German narrowly edged out compatriot Nico Hülkenberg for top honours, with the Force India driver showing promising pace for the Silverstone team this weekend.

Despite predictions of sunnier conditions than the morning session, conditions remained partly cloudy, although the strong Mediterranean winds were bringing little respite in the warm conditions.

Again, many drivers struggled to get a decent balance in the braking and traction zones and, as was the case in the first practice session, a number of drivers outbraked themselves into Turn 12, skipping through the run-off without incident.

Sergio Pérez had a rather more adventurous moment at the same corner, getting his Sauber very sideways under braking before gently pirouetting into the run-off and rejoining the action.

A few minutes later and the yellow flags were out once again, this time when local driver Pedro de la Rosa crashed his HRTF1 at Turn 14 in a rather bizarre-looking accident. The Spaniard seemed to be performing a slow lap, making his slide into the tyre wall all the more unusual. The left side of his F112 was badly damaged, ruling him out of any further action in the session.

There was more drama later on when Romain Grosjean and Michael Schumacher nearly collided at Turn 12.

The Frenchman attempted to pass Schumacher down the inside of the corner, but completely missed his braking point and locked up. But for some good avoiding action from Schumacher, it would have been a big accident.

Grosjean and Schumacher had this near-miss
Grosjean and Schumacher had this near-miss

Schumacher was experiencing his own dramas in the session, firstly losing time in the opening minutes while his mechanics set about setting his gear ratios for the session. Later on, he lost more track time with an issue in the drivetrain. Fourth-fastest at the end of the session was a pretty good result, all things considered.

Bruno Senna finished fifth-quickestBruno Senna ended the session fifth-fastest in his first outing here in the Williams, just pipping Paul di Resta and Fernando Alonso for the position.

Grosjean, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg rounded out the top-ten, with Rosberg being the only driver to post his quickest lap time on the medium-compound tyres.

Neither McLaren made it into the top-ten on the timesheets, with both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton preferring to concentrate on longer runs in this session.

The order on the timesheets was considerably different to that seen in the opening session, and with the fastest fifteen drivers covered by less than a second on the stopwatch, Saturday’s final practice session could prove very telling as to who has genuine pace here.

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

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.334   33
2. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.465 + 0.131 32
3. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:39.595 + 0.261 20
4. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:39.601 + 0.267 27
5. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:39.644 + 0.310 34
6. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.700 + 0.366 32
7. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:39.733 + 0.399 34
8. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:39.868 + 0.534 33
9. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.901 + 0.567 30
10. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:39.926 + 0.592 32
11. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:39.945 + 0.611 34
12. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:39.990 + 0.656 33
13. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:40.075 + 0.741 29
14. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:40.147 + 0.813 25
15. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:40.244 + 0.910 35
16. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:40.511 + 1.177 29
17. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:40.963 + 1.629 20
18. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:41.121 + 1.787 32
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:41.197 + 1.863 38
20. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:41.263 + 1.929 29
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:42.424 + 3.090 21
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:42.958 + 3.624 30
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:44.201 + 4.867 33
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:44.260 + 4.926 12

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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.