Rosberg fastest in morning session, but Alonso powers ahead in P2.
Friday marked the start of the European Grand Prix weekend, as drivers completed the opening two practice sessions around the Valencia street circuit.
A number of questions were raised in the run up to the ninth round of the 2010 world championship, with McLaren and Red Bull locked in their battle at the front and Fernando Alonso looking to reignite his title push on home soil.
With a large amount of teams introducing new devices ahead of this race, the opening two practice sessions would offer a glimmer to the running order for the weekend ahead.
Nico Rosberg fully utilised Mercedes’s F-duct system to top the opening session for the 2010 European Grand Prix, as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button made a strong start to their weekend.
With a quarter of an hour remaining in Spain, the German driver was asked to complete two successive laps – the first without using the aerodynamic device and the second with the system at its optimum.
As a result, the time differential between Rosberg’s two laps demonstrated the impact of the f-duct system on the current specification of Formula One car, with his second effort topping the times.
Lewis Hamilton, who had been fastest for a large part of the session, was second – 0.164 seconds down on Rosberg’s Mercedes and only 0.044s ahead of his team-mate, Button, in third.
Robert Kubica was fourth for Renault – albeit half a second behind the front runners. A further half a second behind came the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who led a gaggle of cars – from fifth to eighth – which were covered by just over a tenth of a second.
Team-mate Fernando Alonso found himself in ninth, but mainly spent the morning session evaluating Ferrari’s new exhaust system. The local hero firstly carried out a heat soak test in the pitlane before being seen out on track with temperature-sensitive stickers plastered on the side of his F10.
Although tyre graining proved to be an issue for the drivers, the session passed without much incident – the only red flag coming after the detached wing mirror of Bruno Senna’s Hispania was run over by Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), prompting it to shatter.
Regular Force India tester Paul di Resta, who finished P1 in sixteenth, was joined out on circuit by Christian Klien – who made his return to a Grand Prix weekend for the first time in years for Hispania. The latter would replace Karun Chandhok for the opening session, but struggled in twenty-third after a gearbox issue.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Rosberg Mercedes 1:41.175 16 2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:41.339 + 0.164 19 3. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:41.383 + 0.208 21 4. Kubica Renault 1:41.715 + 0.540 20 5. Massa Ferrari 1:42.182 + 1.007 21 6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:42.216 + 1.041 24 7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:42.275 + 1.100 17 8. Schumacher Mercedes 1:42.312 + 1.137 18 9. Alonso Ferrari 1:42.421 + 1.246 22 10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:42.463 + 1.288 21 11. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:42.707 + 1.532 23 12. Petrov Renault 1:42.962 + 1.787 17 13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:43.310 + 2.135 23 14. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:43.380 + 2.205 19 15. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:43.397 + 2.222 21 16. di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:43.437 + 2.262 18 17. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:43.729 + 2.554 21 18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:44.183 + 3.008 21 19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:44.491 + 3.316 21 20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:45.653 + 4.478 23 21. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:47.123 + 5.948 17 22. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:47.285 + 6.110 18 23. Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:47.343 + 6.168 14 24. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:47.356 + 6.181 24
Fernando Alonso sent local fans into raptures, as the Ferrari driver topped the afternoon practice session in Valencia.
The Spaniard made use of Ferrari’s package of upgrades for this weekend to set a benchmark time of 1m39.283s with half an hour of the session remaining.
However, the 28-year-old was pressed hard by the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, who managed a time only 0.144s shy – with team-mate Mark Webber in third.
Nico Rosberg, who had topped this morning’s opening practice session, maintained his impressive form in fourth, followed by championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
However, the latter’s team-mate Jenson Button found himself slip down the order to ninth. as Kubica (Renault), Massa (Ferrari) and Sutil’s Force India all bettered his time.
As was the case in the Practice One, the teams were still hampered by graining issues. However, this did not result in a great deal of incident, with those falling off the circuit able to rejoin.
The great casualty of the session was Timo Glock, who could only complete fourteen laps before being forced to park his Virgin car at the side of the circuit.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Alonso Ferrari 1m39.283s 33 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m39.339s + 0.056s 27 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m39.427s + 0.144s 29 4. Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.650s + 0.367s 22 5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.749s + 0.466s 24 6. Kubica Renault 1m39.880s + 0.597s 28 7. Massa Ferrari 1m39.947s + 0.664s 22 8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m40.020s + 0.737s 30 9. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m40.029s + 0.746s 27 10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m40.174s + 0.891s 33 11. Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.287s + 1.004s 24 12. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m40.387s + 1.104s 33 13. Petrov Renault 1m40.618s + 1.335s 29 14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.906s + 1.623s 34 15. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.945s + 1.662s 30 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.115s + 1.832s 35 17. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m41.371s + 2.088s 30 18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m41.457s + 2.174s 36 19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m42.467s + 3.184s 31 20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m42.993s + 3.710s 30 21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m43.811s + 4.528s 14 22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m43.854s + 4.571s 27 23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1m44.095s + 4.812s 24 24. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1m44.566s + 5.283s 21