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Vettel uses Red Bull updates to good effect on opening day in Valencia
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Red Bull
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Jun 2012   |  3:55 pm GMT  |  46 comments

Sebastian Vettel made use of a heavily revised RB8 to set the fastest time of the day in Valencia during Friday’s second practice session ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi.

Red Bull have brought a raft of upgrades to the European Grand Prix, focused on the exhausts blowing on the floor and diffuser, predominantly working on the rear-end stability of the car, which is of particular importance around the street circuit. And those changes have proved successful with Vettel also taking second position in FP1 ahead of team-mate Mark Webber. Webber also tried some front wing modifications and there were further updates to the rear brake ducts.

Both of today’s sessions have been extremely close with the top nine in FP1 covered by 0.3 seconds, and possibly more relatable to qualifying on Saturday, the front twelve in FP2 were all within 0.6 seconds of Vettel; with Schumacher in fourth just 0.3 faster than Button in twelfth. Meaning that once again there will be a mighty scrap to reach the top ten shoot-out.

The afternoon session had a frantic start with the majority of the field heading to the circuit straight away, quickly beating the fastest time set this morning. The first position changed constantly during the first fifteen minutes with Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren trading fastest laps. Mercedes meanwhile did not take to the track for the first twenty minutes of the session, but Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher topped the time sheets on the prime tyre before the cars headed into the pits to attempt a option tyre run.

The air and track temperatures have been much lower than expected but they rose quickly in the first thirty minutes of the session, climbing 6 degrees. The wind this weekend has come from the west, which brings warm air from over the Spanish mainland. Normally the wind in Valencia is from the coast to the East. Hence the high temperatures seen this weekend.

Once the soft tyre runs began, Button went quickest and was the first driver to dip below the 100 second mark. However this time was quickly beaten by Rosberg who was still on the prime compound, although most likely on a light fuel load as he pitted soon after.

Alonso then led the way setting all fastest sectors on his way to a 1:39.733 which remained the fastest time with forty minutes left of the session. Many other drivers had been on a option run trying to topple the home favourite until their laps were ruined by a crash for the HRT of Pedro De La Rosa who seemed to not turn enough and buried his car in the tyre wall, walking away unharmed.

After the car was removed the times began to tumble once again with Vettel posting a 1:39.334 which was to remain unbeaten. As the McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes cars turned their attention to heavy fuel runs the midfield teams shot up the order with Bruno Senna and Paul Di Resta taking fifth and sixth positions respectively between Schumacher and Alonso.

Button and Lewis Hamilton ended in twelfth and fourteenth places and were concerned with competitiveness in race trim. “It’s going to be a tough one for us,” was Hamilton’s conclusion.

The soft tyre runs were short lived today but McLarens true single lap pace will be shown in the final practice session on Saturday morning.

“I think on one lap, I don’t think we’re too bad,” said Button. “We’re not great, but we’re not too bad. But the long run is the strange area for us because the car doesn’t feel too bad but the time just isn’t there. So we’ve got to look in to the reasons for that.”

McLaren doesn’t have any major upgrades this weekend, but was working on a new rear suspension geometry and a new idea on the exhausts for Hamilton’s car. They will have for the next race in Silverstone. Button is working on finding the set up which works for him, after his problems in Canada.

Lotus had a quiet Friday, however Romain Grosjean proved that they are definitely a team to watch this weekend as he showed very good race pace relative to the other top teams.

Additional reporting: Matt Meadows
EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX, Valencia, Friday Practice 2

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m39.334 33
2. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m39.465s + 0.131 32
3. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m39.595s + 0.261 20
4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m39.601s + 0.267 27
5. Bruno Senna Williams 1m39.644s + 0.310 34
6. Paul di Resta Force India 1m39.700s + 0.366 32
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.733s + 0.399 34
8. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m39.868s + 0.534 33
9. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m39.901s + 0.567 30
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.926s + 0.592 32
11. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m39.945s + 0.611 34
12. Jenson Button McLaren 1m39.990s + 0.656 33
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m40.075s + 0.741 29
14. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m40.147s + 0.813 25
15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m40.244s + 0.910 35
16. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m40.511s + 1.177 29
17. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m40.963s + 1.629 20
18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m41.121s + 1.787 32
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m41.197s + 1.863 38
20. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m41.263s + 1.929 29
21. Timo Glock Marussia 1m42.424s + 3.090 21
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m42.958s + 3.624 30
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m44.201s + 4.867 33
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m44.260s + 4.926 12


Top Team Tweets from the day

#club force (Force India) “So our good form from the morning continued this afternoon with @NicoHulkenberg in P2 and @pauldirestaf1 in P6 during FP2.”

#InsideFerrari “All the job has been completed, so all in all a positive first day of the weekend.”

#TheFifthDriver (McLaren) #socialfriday ‏@scottyfay: “my bad I meant to ask how much the steering wheel costs.” Hehehe! :) They cost around £25K.”

Fan Tweets

#ubaidparkar “Difference between tyre compounds at Valencia about 0.3-0.5s per lap, longest run on softs: Rosberg (18 laps), mediums: Alonso (15 laps) #F1

#dchalmersf1 @IrishKimiFan20 “Definitely. One or two big names won’t make it to Q3 #F1″

There’s lots more insight from teams, drivers and media at JA on F1 Connect

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46 Comments
  1. blackmamba says:

    MacLaren won Canada and took their eye off the ball, more concerned about the media over Jenson. Everyone else have improved their car since Australia and it seems MacLaren are stood still. Why can’t they put a string of good performances together? Why?

    1. Sossoliso says:

      They are obsessing about inter Team rivalry and making Jenson go faster. Tey have actually forgotten they have to race other teans as well. Looking at todays performance looks like Lewis has been given Jenson’s Setup instead of the other way round.

    2. Joe B says:

      Do you honestly think a professional racing team has put all it’s focus on PR rather than car development? They are working on suspension and exhaust this race, with updates to come in Silverstone. Just because they don’t have a new floor at every race like Red Bull doesn’t mean they’ve ‘taken their eye off the ball’.

  2. Chris Normal says:

    “however Romain Grosjean proved that they are definitely a team to watch this weekend as he showed very good race pace relative to the other top teams”.

    Wasn’t Kimis race pace faster than Grosjeans? That’s what it looked like to me.

    1. Antti says:

      To me they seemed to be doing quite similar times (as far as one can tell just from the sector times). For a while Kimi appeared to be stuck behind Rosberg and clearly losing a few tenths there, otherwise both Lotus’ cars appeared fairly equal.

  3. Rob Newman says:

    Vettel was fastest in FP2 and if not for handling problems in the last few laps in FP1, he would have been fastest in both sessions. However, their long run pace doesn’t suggest they have good race pace compared to the Ferraris and McLarens. I think they will struggle just like in Montreal with tyre degradation.

    If drivers are going to struggle with their tyres, then we will see some overtaking during the latter part of the race.

  4. Dan Orsino says:

    Button seems to have figured a way out of his probs without the help of any upgrades

    1. James Clayton says:

      Button’s never generally had problems on Fridays.

      1. James Clayton says:

        It’s generally Q2 & Q3 his problems start!

  5. Nando says:

    Have Red Bull decided they may as well chance their arm blowing the diffuser as Whiting will just issue a clarification and allow them to keep the points?

    1. Joe B says:

      It would explain why Vettel’s back at the front again…

    2. shane says:

      I thought that. It definitely sounds like their blowing off throttle again. Don’t quite know what they are doing but something is going on….and its all supposed to be banned.

    3. Jeff says:

      So far, the other teams haven’t had the danglies to do it, but I wonder if they could challenge the Red Bull’s legality post-race in the event of a Vettel win.

      RBR seem to be given a heck of a lot of leeway from Charlie this year, but if they’re going outside the rules so soon after their illegal floor holes, it may be time to give them a lesson in the risks of rule-bending.

  6. Irish con says:

    I havnt got a clue who is good and who is bad.

  7. Seán Craddock says:

    James, I know it’s compulsory to go to the medical centre after high impact crashes, what’s the g-force reading that makes it mandatory? Because de la Rosa’s crash was 7.1G I believe and it looked really nasty. The way his head moved reminded me of Mika Hakkinen’s crash in Adelaide 1995 (obviously Hakkinen hit the barriers a lot harder, just the direction his head went didn’t look good, I thought his head almost hit the wing mirror)

    1. Wu says:

      7.1 isn’t much at all. They reach over 5 during cornering.

      Also I’m not quite sure about this, but I think HANS wasn’t implemented yet in 1995.

  8. Sebee says:

    You know, we’ve been focused on Ferrari, and constantly talking about Ferrari updates, and need to improve their car. At least I have not been paying as much attention to RBR. Maybe because I’ve had my fill last 2 years. But these guys have been quietly working on finding speed and I’m starting to have that feeling that something is about to give them wings.

    I say Vettel will be first two time winner.

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      Vettel looks good for this race but I hope it’s someone who has not yet won.

      If tyre degradation is more significant here, it could be a battle between Lotus and Sauber.
      That would be tremendous.

  9. Ant Dale says:

    come on williams. looks very close throughout the field

  10. matthew says:

    focusing to hard on making button quicker,theyve changed things too much which has slowed down both.i knew this would happen after jensons last few results.
    they seem to be more focused on making button quicker than winning the championship.

    this is what jenson said after p2.

    “We’re going to go back on a few things that we’ve changed through the session, to a car set-up that we know felt comfortable, but it’s difficult to be consistent because of that front locking.

    1. AJ says:

      You shouldn’t read too much into the Friday practice times – they’re rarely an accurate representation of the pecking order come qualifying. That said, I’m intrigued as to how using Lewis’s set up as a baseline, Jenson was the quicker of the two in both sessions.

    2. Cliff says:

      Button and Hamilton used the same car set-up as a baseline. Hamilton would have been free to make changes to suit his car.

    3. Adrian says:

      They only went back on Jensens car so it would have no effect at all on Lewis’ car.

      As Cliff says all they’ve done is start the cars from the same baseline. The one Lewis would have started from anyway.

  11. Pulkit Tripathi says:

    Hi Allen, Why it is the case Lotus is always had great race pace at Friday? everyone hype about them but still in race RedBull and McLaren outpaced them in race pace also. Does it take more R&D to have qualifying pace? and why after tom low point finish from Kimi is making some part of media criticizing him?

    1. SP says:

      It seems to me that the car is obviously quick out of the box. But as the weekend progresses, the other big teams dial in the car better or show their real hand. Leaving the Lotus trailing. If they can qualify better, they can get a better result and take advantage of the car being lighter on its tyres. No good if you’re bogged down in traffic or behind slower cars.

  12. F1+ nismo says:

    James, Will Mclaren be running a B spec car at Silverstone. The reason I ask you this, is that Mclaren seem to have kept their updates very limited. For example at Barcelona they have raised the nose and then in Canada more to do with the suspension geometry.

    Another point, is it true that Redbull are running a double floor as reported by Auto und sport.

    Thanks James and keep up with the good reports.

    1. F1+ nismo says:

      Sorry, regarding Redbull I meant from Auto-Motor-und-Sport..

  13. Sossoliso says:

    I thought McLaren were supposed to be giving Jenson Lewis’ Setup and not the other way round.. Looks like they have given Lewis Jenson’s setup for parity…Yikes!

  14. Sebee says:

    Kubica?

    Do we have any news or updates?

    Sorry to be off topic, but I was just reading Maurice Hamilton’s bit The Darker Side, and it reminded me of Kubica. It’s been a long long time since last update, and we’ve heard nothing really.

    1. James Allen says:

      He had more surgery on his arm a few weeks ago

    2. Wu says:

      I posted this site a few times already, but I don’t mind reposting;

      http://robertscomeback.blogspot.co.uk/

      Despite the name, the site tends to feature news both positive and negative, but there’s an obvious and understandable well-wishing bias to it. Definitly no rumours though.

      Kubica has been silent about his prospects because he still doesn’t know. He is working on it, and every month he gets closer to a possible return, but it seems he still has some way to go before he can be sure about his future.

    3. Laurence H says:

      http://robertscomeback.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

      This page will keep you updated with any public news.

  15. Leo says:

    James,
    Did webber have updates available to him ?
    If so he was almost half a second off Seb ??
    Did he have problems? Cannot find any info anywhere
    Thanks

    1. Wild Man says:

      In post session interview he said that balance was not as good on softer tyres & would work on that overnight.

  16. Luke says:

    James,

    Will Valencia be worth getting out of bed for(from Australia)? It’s usually the most boring GP of they year & is the one I usually miss. About the most spectacular thing I’ve seen from this GP was MW’s crash a few years ago…and then I went back to bed!

    1. James Allen says:

      The last part should be worth watching if the strategies are different

    2. Glennb says:

      The race starts at 10pm In East Aus’ mate. It’s not like getting up for Canada or Brazil. I agree with James in that an otherwise boringish race should be worth watching when the different strategies kick in at the end, like Canada.

  17. Myer says:

    Please remember this is only FP. I wonder how many top teams are sand-bagging?

    I would still expect the usual suspects in the top 10 in Q3. Top 10 will most probably be made up of RBR, Ferrari, McLaren, Lotus, Merc.

    Williams look strong but I doubt they will be in the top 5.

    Force India’s long runs look good though and their race pace could be surprise us. They have brought a secret weapon to Valencia so let’s see what they have up their sleeves.

  18. Richard says:

    Yes well Red Bull have been the strongest overall all season with both drivers performing reasonably which is why they are leading the constructors so far. Ferrari look strong, so do Mercedes, but McLaren after a few adjustments bounce back in FP3. People say this season is great, but it’s plainly ridiculous, absurd, unrepresentative, and quite unlike any other sport I’ve come across.

  19. Charalampos says:

    Maclarens bad Friday just mean nothing. u cannot interpret things like that.

    But I think bulls for quali.

    Alonso maybe second or third.

    If grosjean makes it to top five then he could win maybe with a less pit stop but there r a lot of ifs like how many pit stops the temperatures will allow and if a slow driver will manage to qualify in front of him, if the temperatures will suit lotus, safety car, no crashes from his side, unknown factors. And while all these are a lot of factors I can see it being a real possibility.

    Alonso could maybe win as well if the trend of new tyres heating up slowly after a pit stop continues, though I never got why this was the case for the last 2 races. Maybe it is the soft compound that has this behavior. Any ideas anyone?

    Lewis could be there as well but I do not think for pole. The trend that wanted maclarens faster in qualifying was not true during the last 2 races and maybe this was because of a different setup they will continue using. So I can see him improving 1 place from where he qualifies.

    Maldonado can make it p4 to p6 in qualifying I think. Head enough races to fool him self around with bad form, so this time he will probably be reasonable in that Williams.

    Felipe? Can he find more form as his good performances continue and out qualify Alonso. Maybe but chances are very low especially because the spaniard is in a great form him self. But I expect him to be near and if Alonso’s performance is not great he could find himself in front.

    I guess I should stop thinking and just enjoy the race.
    I think it will be boring though for its biggest part.
    The new season has given us such great races that now even mediocre look boring in our eyes. Pirelli could spice up things for a bit, but as we return to more dull racing it will look now 100 more times dull and it will backfire. Bernie will notice that and for the next year we will have more changes. I can see him saying again his idea about artificial rain before the season ends.

  20. Lynn says:

    Grosjean is getting all the attention….the 8th winner?

    1. James Allen says:

      Vettel seems strongest. Grosjean’s chances need him to qualify top 5 really

      1. Lynn says:

        You’re right James, pole for Vettel.
        His race to lose, but both Lotus drivers may have a shot at P4 & P5.

  21. Mircea_Mclaren says:

    James how do you explain that Mclaren is so slow in bringing upgrades this year? Ferarri and Red Bull are much faster than Mclaren. I thought Mclaren is the best team in developing a car during the season? Ferarri brought a lot of updates in last races, and Mclaren nothing from Barcelona. James what are doing in Woking? They have the same ampunt of time, how Ferarri have so much upgrades? Are Mclaren sleeping?

  22. Mircea_Mclaren says:

    *they doing *amount

  23. Chris says:

    Sorry, meant at Silverstone

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