Barcelona Practice 2: Button leads the way at the end of the first day
11 May, 2012
May 11 (Apex) Jenson Button ended day one of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in Barcelona fastest of all, as the true pecking order started to emerge by the end of the day indicating that the tussle for top honours should be between McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus.
But for Ferrari they appear to lack the pace to mix it at the front despite a host of highly publicised updates to their cursed F2012. Again a Ferrari powered Sauber was faster than the pedigreed offering from Maranello.
At the front, with a set of soft option tyres bolted on Button powered around the Circuit de Catalunya in 1 minute 23.399 seconds, after overcoming a bout of understeer on the McLaren MP4-27 early on in the session. A few setup tweaks by his crew appeared to have sorted it out for the Englishman who won the 2009 Spanish Grand Prix.
Second fastest was Bahrain GP winner Sebastian Vettel again showing strong pace and consistency in the Red Bull and only 0.164 seconds off Button’s best.
Up next, third quickest, was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton fourth fastest in the McLaren, suggesting that the Mercedes powered cars are intent on reversing the trouncing they received in Bahrain from their Renault powered rivals.
Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were fifth and sixth respectively, with the top six covered by half a second – it’s very, very close at the top.
An hour into proceedings Mark Webber got it all wrong on the exit of Turn 4, flying across the gravel before rejoining the track in his Red Bull RB8. The Australian ended the session seventh on the timing sheets and half a second down on his team mate.
Michael Schumacher ended the session eighth after an inconspicuous session for the six times Spanish Grand Prix winner.
Kamui Kobayashi was fastest of the Ferrari powered posse, ending the session ninth after setting hearts fluttering with an off in the Turn 14 and Turn 15 kink late on in the session. No harm done.
Hamilton and Bruno Senna also had close calls around the same time, at the exact same place, as drivers pushed the limit in the final moments of practice.
Rounding out the top ten was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who was also the last driver within a second of the fastest time set by Button.
Out of the top ten were the Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa (11th) and Fernando Alonso (14th) which perhaps indicates that the Italian squad have not found any extra pace compared to their rivals or they are playing one hell of a good game of bluff. Ferrari fans will be hoping the latter, but realistically things still remain bleak for the reds. Watch this space.
Special mention has to be made about Narain Karthikeyan’s wretched day, after being forced to sit out the morning practice as Dani Close did duty for HRT. His car was plagued by an electrical problem that lost him an hour of track time. And when the 112 eventually did get out on track it was only until Turn 3…
Free Practice 2 – Barcelona, 11 May 2012
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:23.563||0.164||38|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:24.065||0.666||34|
|10||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.365||0.966||22|
|15||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:24.688||1.289||30|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:28.235||4.836|