Mark Webber topped the opening practice session for the European Grand Prix at Valencia.
The Australian ran 22 laps around the dusty street circuit, registering a best tour of 1:40.403 – some eight-tenths quicker than the best efforts Vitaly Petrov (Renault) and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).
Webber’s Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, spent much of the first session testing the RB7’s revised engine mapping programme to used from Silverstone onward.
It would see the reigning champion only set the 16th quickest lap of the morning.
Lewis Hamilton was the faster of the McLaren Mercedes pair, securing 4th on the timing sheets, four-tenths and three places up on teammate Jenson Button. Less appealing was that Hamilton’s best was a clear 1.1 seconds off of Webber’s pace. McLaren brought an updated front wing to this race in an aid to challenge the Red Bull’s.
Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa made it another Renault / Ferrari pairing in 5th and 6th places respectively; both of whom finishing the practice around half-a-second shy of their stablemates.
Adrian Sutil was the quickest of the Force India’s in 8th, although the German had little trouble from Nico Hulkenberg – sitting in for regular pilot Paul di Resta – whose session lasted all of twenty minutes.
Hulkenberg was on his seventh lap, when he lost control of his Force India in turn twelve, clouting the barrier in the process. With the suspension damaged on both wheels on the left side, Hulkenberg’s day was done.
Another Friday morning replacement not having a good session was Karun Chandhok. Following disappoint stints in Melbourne and Istanbul, the Indian only managed a further two laps before his Lotus developed a gearbox failure.
It makes it only five laps that Chandhok has attempted so far this season.
Other than that, Toro Rosso stand-in Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a fruitful day. Ricciardo secured 12th in practice two-tenths, two places and two laps shy of teammate Jaime Alguersuari.
Williams didn’t have as good a morning. Veteran Rubens Barrichello complained of excessive vibration at high speed, pinning the Brazilian to 13th on the time sheets.
Barrichello spent the session testing an updated exhaust on the FW33. Teammate Pastor Maldonado registered the 15th best time with the original exhaust configuration.
A late session spin by Virgin’s Timo Glock (exiting turn 5) brought out yellow flags with only a minute left, rendering all fast runs null.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m40.403s 22 2. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m41.227s + 0.824 20 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.239s + 0.836 22 4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.510s + 1.107 23 5. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m41.580s + 1.177 24 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.758s + 1.355 23 7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m41.926s + 1.523 14 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m41.955s + 1.552 20 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m42.043s + 1.640 22 10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m42.216s + 1.813 29 11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m42.270s + 1.867 26 12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m42.412s + 2.009 27 13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m42.704s + 2.301 23 14. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m42.738s + 2.335 20 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m42.841s + 2.438 28 16. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m42.941s + 2.538 21 17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m43.201s + 2.798 18 18. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m43.769s + 3.366 7 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m44.136s + 3.733 17 20. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.026s + 4.623 17 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m45.221s + 4.818 19 22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m45.494s + 5.091 24 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m46.926s + 6.523 27 24. Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 2