Practice 1: Webber and Valencia make peace
24 June, 2011
Jun.24 (PVM) Last year Red Bull’s Mark Webber survived one of the most spectacular high flying crashes seen in Formula 1 in some time during the race at Valencia – thus it must have been encouraging for him, and perhaps even important, that he driver topped the timing sheets at the end of the first free practice of the European Grand Prix weekend at the harbour street circuit.
Webber’s time of 1 minute 40.403 seconds was set during a spell of quick laps by the Aussie just short of the hour mark and remained the benchmark for the rest of the session, admittedly no one really attacked top spot with much resolve during the rest of the session. Notably the best time last year in the first session of the Valencia weekend was 1 minute 41.175 seconds.
In fact most got going pretty slowly on a notoriously green circuit which claimed Force India’s on duty reserve Nico Hulkenberg, who crashed when he locked up the rears on Paul di Resta’s VJM04, it slewed as front traction went AWOL and slammed the wall with left side of the car on the way into Turn 12.
Back to the timing screens with Webber tops it was strange to see team mate, and runaway championship leader, Sebastian Vettel down in 16th. Clearly the German was on a non-speedy morning programme. In fact talk was that for the first hour of the session his Kinky Kylie was running in Silverstone spec – off throttle exhaust restrictions in place – before reverting to Valencia configuration. Thus the session was hardly an indication of the true pace of last year’s European GP winner.
Vitaly Petrov ended second fastest in the Renault R31 which is supposedly going to be the biggest victim of the exhaust curbs. Petrov was 0.824 seconds down on Webber’s best and about on par with last year’s best in the opening session of the weekend. Team mate Nick Heidfeld who did not race in Valencia last year was fifth fastest.
Local hero Fernando Alonso, who has yet to finish on the podium at the Valencia street circuit, was third quickest in the Ferrari 150 Italia which the team are hoping is suited to the harbour facility. Team mate Felipe Massa, who won the first ever F1 race in the Spanish port back in 2008, sixth quickest half a second off the Spaniard.
Fourth fastest was Lewis Hamilton who was best of the McLaren pair, just over a second down on Webber’s best, with Canada winner Jenson Button seventh best. The latter spending a great deal of time in the pits as engineers fiddled with the rear end of the MP4/26 before he got going, completing only 14 laps in the process which was way down on his main rivals.
Adrian Sutil showed encouraging pace in the Force India, setting the eighth best time which was quicker than both the Mercedes works pair.
In fact Nico Rosberg was up next, ninth fastest, in the Mercedes MGP-W02 with Michael Schumacher 11th best. Significantly the seven times World Champion has only raced at the Valencia street circuit once before – last year.
Jaime Alguersuari showed strong pace in the Toro Rosso, circulating more than any other driver the young Spaniard is keen to alleviate the pressure surrounding his future in the team. He outpaced his probable replacement Daniel Ricciardo who was on Friday morning duty in place of Sebastien Buemi. The young Australian was 12th fastest.
Sergio Perez was back in the Sauber cockpit (after his Montreal sick leave) and apparently doing fine. He ended the session 14th best, ahead of team mate Kamui Kobayashi who was 17th on the timing screens, half a second down on the Mexican rookie.
Lotus reserve Karun Chandhok was on duty in Jarno Trulli’s T128 cockpit, but the likeable Indian’s run of bad luck in the Friday sessions continued, as he explained: “I just went out of the pit lane and I had no second gear so I just cruised round. I’m not having much luck with this Friday driving. I think I’ve done two timed laps in three Friday sessions.”
Friday, 24 June – Practice 1 Result
|1||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:40.403||22|
|8||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:41.955||1.552||20|
|9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:42.043||1.640||22|
|10||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:42.216||1.813||29|
|11||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:42.270||1.867||26|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:42.412||2.009||27|
|16||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:42.941||2.538||21|
|18||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:43.769||3.366||7|
|20||Jerome d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing||1:45.026||4.623||17|
|21||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||1:45.221||4.818||19|
|24||Karun Chandhok||Lotus||No time||2|