Although Mercedes were fastest in the first practice session the practice times indicate the W01 is not the fastest car around Valencia this weekend.
McLaren have the fastest car through the speed traps but it’s not clear yet how much time Ferrari have found with their exhaust upgrade.
Tick/untick drivers?óÔé¼Ôäó names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom
Even at this early stage in the weekend it’s clear the teams’ cars are a lot quicker around Valencia than they were in 2009. The fastest time in the first session by Nico Rosberg was 1.3 seconds faster than the best time seen in FP1 last year.
That was despite a track that was clearly dusty. While the track cleaned up and became quicker, the drivers’ tyres (they tend to only use a single set of primes in FP1) became increasingly worn.
That meant times improved slowly, the improving condition of the track being offset by the deteriorating medium compound tyres. As a result most drivers set their best time within their first dozen laps.
So although Rosberg set the fastest time of the session he did it 20 minutes later than the McLarens, in which time the track will have become faster by several tenths of a second. Remember also that we saw Lewis Hamilton abort a lap on which he was set to improve after catching a Lotus in the final sector.
Interestingly, we know from the radio broadcasts that on Rosberg’s two laps when he set his best time he only activated his F-duct for the second. As the graph above shows that second lap was 2.3 seconds faster. However Rosberg was 7.5kph slower than Hamilton through the speed trap.
As usual the McLarens showed great straight-line speed. Jenson Button was fastest, cutting the beam at 315.2kph and Lewis Hamilton managed 314kph. But the next fastest driver, Sebastien Buemi, was 2.5kph slower.
There seems to have been no major leap forward from the Red Bulls as they test the new version of their F-duct. Sebastian Vettel hit 306.7kph which was 15th fastest, though more or less on a par with Robert Kubica’s similarly-engined car.
As expected the RB6s look stronger in the final sector with its high-speed turns than anywhere else on the track. Kubica narrowly pipped Vettel to fastest time there by one thousandth of a second.
The Red Bulls appear to be losing time on the rest of the lap. But we are accustomed to seeing them run heavier fuel loads at this stage in the weekend and we’ll get a clearer picture of their performance after second practice.
It’s too early to draw firm conclusions about how strong Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes are with their exhaust upgrades.
Ten drivers in this session were driving on the Valencia street circuit for the first time in a Formula 1 car and it interesting to compare their different approaches on their first flying laps. While some built up their speed slowly, others were fast from their first lap. Here’s what they set on their first laps:
|Driver||Lap time||Session time|
|Michael Schumacher||1’42.369||46 minutes|
|Pedro de la Rosa||1’45.473||47|
|Lucas di Grassi||1’49.569||18|
|Paul di Resta||1’58.306||46|
Full first practice times
|Car||Driver||Car||Best lap||Gap||Lap||At time||Laps|
|6||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’42.216||1.041||12||64||24|
|7||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’42.275||1.100||11||60||17|
|13||16||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’43.310||2.135||11||60||23|
|14||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1’43.380||2.205||12||59||19|
|15||22||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber-Ferrari||1’43.397||2.222||8||54||21|
|16||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1’43.437||2.262||9||54||18|
|18||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’44.183||3.008||12||61||21|
|24||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1’47.356||6.181||6||22||24|
2010 European Grand Prix
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