Valencia Practice 2: Vettel fastest, but midfield teams showing strongly
22 June, 2012
Jun.22 (Apex) Reigning world champion, and winner of the European Grand Prix for the past two years, Sebastian Vettel ended the first day of practice for this year’s edition of the race in Valencia fastest of all with five different marques in the top five – not one of them a Ferrari, McLaren or even a Lotus!
Several drivers had spins or off-track moments, most notably Sergio Pérez who finished up facing the wrong way in his Sauber at Turn 17, but the hardest luck was reserved for the struggling HRT outfit – on home soil, as Pedro de la Rosa lost control exiting Turn 14, and appeared to understeer before slamming the tyre wall and causing severe damage to the front end of the F112.
The Spanish veteran was unscathed in the impact, and immediately got on the radio to inform his team that he had made a mistake and apologised.
Vettel spent the day at the sharp end of the timing screens, showing strong pace with both Pirelli tyre options available for the street circuit – softs and mediums – with the Red Bull RB8 proving handy on long runs, too. Just short of the hour mark the German set the benchmark time of 1 minute 39.334 seconds which remained the top time of the day.
Behind Vettel, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was a tenth off the pace, followed by Kamui Kobayashi, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg completed the top ten.
In a busy session with most drivers doing long runs on both tyre compounds, Heikki Kovalainen completed the most mileage, with 38 laps, and de la Rosa aside, Kobayashi the least with 20 laps.
Earlier in the session Jenson Button had been the first man to set a time below 100 seconds, bolting on a set of soft tyres early in the session, his lap of 1:39.990 briefly held top spot before being beaten by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. Significantly, Rosberg was able to do his time on the harder compound. After Rosberg, Alonso topped the timing screens briefly before Vettel set his quick lap.
Remarkably the top 11 drivers were all in the sub-100 seconds zone and the top 15 within a second of the top time, suggesting a very, very tight contest ahead in qualifying and the race.
Subbed by AJN.
Practice 2 – Friday, 22 June 2012
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:39.334||33|
|2||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.465||0.131||32|
|6||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:39.700||0.366||32|
|9||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:39.901||0.567||30|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:44.260||4.926||12|