Button on top in final Valencia practice
23 June 2012 – Putting his car setup worries behind him, Jenson Button topped the timesheets in final practice for the European Grand Prix. On another hot morning in Valencia, the McLaren driver led the way from Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen as Sebastian Vettel also demonstrated pace for pole. One second covered the first 14 cars.
Some may be unexcited about the Valencia Street Circuit, which is now hosting its fifth F1 event, although an expected rising in temperatures between Saturday and Sunday could throw a number of variables into the mix. Fuel loads also remain unknown, although Lotus now appears to be confirming that it – as usual – carried high amounts on Friday.
Pastor Maldonado and Williams led the way as the first half-hour came to an end, with Fernando Alonso having returned to the Ferrari garage as a possible problem was checked. Back on-track, fellow Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa continued his energetic weekend in the form of a high-speed spin at the final corner.
Until the final ten minutes, the timesheets remained somewhat static; a general switch to the quicker, Soft compound tyres then brought a flurry of activity. Grosjean topped the timesheets, with Räikkönen a tenth down and unable to better his team-mate’s effort. On his only Option tyre run, Vettel made a mistake and shot down the Turn 2 escape road, but confirmed his rapid speed on the in-lap by setting fastest Sector 1 and 2 times.
Button, who had started this weekend with Lewis Hamilton’s setup, drove with confidence to his lap time of 1:38.562, although all of the top ten are jammed together. Force India verified Vijay Mallya’s pre-weekend optimism with a double top five result as Sergio Pérez finished sixth for Sauber. Mark Webber’s session ended in 19th place as the Australian – like Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov - did not use the Soft tyre.
Qualifying for the 2012 European Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can also be followed through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report