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Fri, 22 June, 2012Vettel leads practice day in Valencia

  • Sebastian Vettel (DEU) Red Bull-Renault RB7. 2011 European Grand Prix, Rd 8, Qualifying day. Valencia, Spain. Saturday 25 June 2011. © Red Bull.

Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel set the pace on practice day of this weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia after posting a time of 1m39.334s at the wheel of his Red Bull in second practice today. The German's time was more than 1.5 seconds quicker than the pace set by Williams' Pastor Maldonado this morning.

Conditions were occasionally overcast but warm in Valencia for the first day of track action, but slippery track conditions from the 'green' track resulted in countless lock-ups under braking with drivers taking to the generous run-off areas to recover throughout the day.

HRT's Pedro de la Rosa was the only driver to come into contact with the unrelenting barriers lining the track however, when he crashed at turn 14 causing significant damage to the front-left of his F112. The Spaniard was unhurt in the accident.

Practice 1 this morning saw Williams' Pastor Maldonado lead a highly competitive pack. The Venezuelan's time of 1m40.890s was just three tenths quicker than ninth-place Nico Rosberg, with Sebastian Vette, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton all sandwiched between the pair.

Two substitute drivers were in action for the session, with Jules Bianchi taking over from Nico Hülkenberg at Force India and Valtteri Bottas driving the second Williams in place of Bruno Senna. Bianchi finished the session in 15th place (1m42.175s) and Bottas was 16th (1m42.299s).

The field was significantly more spread out in second practice, as teams completed their usual long run simulations ahead of Sunday's race. Vettel's time was more than a tenth quicker than closest rival Nico Hülkenberg (1m39.465s), with Kamui Kobayashi, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta completing an unpredicted top six.

Completing the top ten were Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, the latter having lapped almost six tenths off the pace. Towards the back of the field, Caterham and Toro Rosso were locked in a battle for 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st places, while Marussia continue to lead HRT at the very back.

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