Red Bull still fastest as Valencia practice begins

2011 European GP first practice

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Valencia, 2011

Mark Webber headed the times at the end of the first practice session for the European Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver had a healthy advantage of eight tenths of a second around the street circuit.

Vitaly Petrov was second-fastest, just one hundredth of a second faster than Fernando Alonso.

There was little running early in the session as the track was dusty and in grip.

The slippery surface caught out Nico H?â??lkenberg in the first half hour of running. The Force India reserve driver had gone fastest and was improving his time when he lost control of the car at turn 12.

The VJM04 snapped left under braking and he clipped the barrier, damaging the left-rear corner, leaving the mechanics with much work to do to get the car ready for Paul di Resta in the second session.

The dusty surface caught out several other drivers, including Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi, but all were able to take to the run-off area to recover.

Heikki Kovalainen ran wide at turn one and Michael Schumacher had a high-speed moment on the exit kerb at turn 20.

Another reserve driver who didn’t get much running was Karun Chandhok, who toured slowly into the pits after just one lap having lost second gear.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap
1 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.403 22
2 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’41.227 0.824 20
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.239 0.836 22
4 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.510 1.107 23
5 9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1’41.580 1.177 24
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.758 1.355 23
7 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.926 1.523 14
8 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’41.955 1.552 20
9 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’42.043 1.640 22
10 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.216 1.813 29
11 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.270 1.867 26
12 18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.412 2.009 27
13 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’42.704 2.301 23
14 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.738 2.335 20
15 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’42.841 2.438 28
16 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’42.941 2.538 21
17 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’43.201 2.798 18
18 15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’43.769 3.366 7
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’44.136 3.733 17
20 25 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.026 4.623 17
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’45.221 4.818 19
22 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’45.494 5.091 24
23 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’46.926 6.523 27
24 21 Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault No time 2

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37 comments on Red Bull still fastest as Valencia practice begins

  1. Ben N said on 24th June 2011, 10:41

    I know it’s only practice but I feel the Renault’s could have a good weekend. Expect the Force India’s to be around the Mercedes pace as well.

    Vettel still my prediction for pole and victory (unfortunately!).

    As a supporter of the racing rather than a specific team or driver, I would love a Vettel retirement and anyone else to win! Preferably Alonso, Hamilton, Button or Webber – to keep it as tight as possible! 60 points is an incredible lead though!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 10:53

      I know it’s only practice but I feel the Renault’s could have a good weekend.

      They reckon they’v found out why they’ve been disappointing in the past few rounds and are getting back on track.

      Early evidence suggests this is true.

      • Trix said on 24th June 2011, 11:04

        Anyone thinking Renault is cranking it up a max before they are heavily affected by the changes that will occur at Silverstone? Going for major points before they have to have to readapt the car to the new off throttle regulations?

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 11:12

          Anyone thinking Renault is cranking it up a max before they are heavily affected by the changes that will occur at Silverstone?

          No – Renault have frontal exhausts, remember? The aggressive engine maps work best when the teams control exactly where the exhaust gasses hit the diffuser. But Renault’s exhausts exit under the sidepods, so they can’t directly control where and how the gasses hit the diffuser.

          • Trix said on 24th June 2011, 11:21

            So basically, Renault have got on top their issues (for right now, though) and quite some other teams are running in test mode for Silverstone… Doesn’t help us figure out what Renault’s true chances for this weekend’s race are until at least FP2.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 11:31

            Doesn’t help us figure out what Renault’s true chances for this weekend’s race are until at least FP2.

            I disagree – we won’t know anyone’s true pace until qualifying.

          • Mike said on 24th June 2011, 16:10

            I think you are underestimating the importance of the hot air. The Renault uses it to create downforce as well, just they think more can be gained from having it effect different areas in different ways.

            I’d say seeing as they visibly have used the exhaust as a design choice to boost downforce it will hit them hard.

        • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 24th June 2011, 11:23

          I’m not sure about that! Wouldn’t they have been doing that already? :P

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th June 2011, 13:37

        Certainly does. I know practise isn’t always that indicative but I would love it if the R31 is showing it’s true pace relative to everyone else.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th June 2011, 13:32

      Vettel still my prediction for pole and victory

      So’s mine!

  2. PaulM said on 24th June 2011, 10:47

    I would be interested to know how much time you lose in a single lap by not running DRS. Hamilton was unable to use his during FP1, so I would assume his best time here is not representative of the true pace of that McLaren.

  3. BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th June 2011, 10:49

    So Vettel was behind with the engine map testing (and a bit of extra fuel, I guess). McLaren were not using DRS this morning.
    And Renault is surely a tad lower on fuel, or is their traction off the corners good enough to bring them this far up to the front of the grid with Petrov? I doubt it.

    • Trix said on 24th June 2011, 11:07

      Logically, Bas, they are looking amazing right now but RBR and McLaren will swoosh them away during Qualifying.
      It looks like the top teams are mostly preferring the testing mode right now whereas Renault is perfecting their car as they wished it could be fore the full season…
      Or has there been any evidence that Renault won’t be the most affected with the Silverstone changes?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th June 2011, 13:54

        Well, they say they will be less affected themselves, and I heard several others say that might be true.

        But for now I firmly expect Vettel to be up front come tomorrow afternoon again.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th June 2011, 13:39

      So most of the crucial teams were not showing their true pace – at least we will have something to look out for in FP2.

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 10:58

    The slippery surface caught out Nico HĂĽlkenberg in the first half hour of running. The Force India reserve driver had gone fastest and was improving his time when he lost control of the car at turn 12.

    He did something similar there in the race last year.

  5. Todfod (@todfod) said on 24th June 2011, 11:01

    I’m guessing there will be no surprises this weekend. Vettel on pole, and on Sunday, he will be followed by his teammate, the Mclarens and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, who will all be fighting for the podium.

  6. Toro Stevo said on 24th June 2011, 11:30

    Buemi and Alguersuari are keeping Ricciardo honest. I don’t think the gap between the Australian and either of them has ever been more than a couple of tenths in FP1, usually with the full time drivers getting the edge.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 11:35

      Could we honestly expect anything different? People seemed to think Ricciardo would obliterate everyone because of his times from the Young Driver tests – which were set on a circuit that had a full weekend’s rubber down, driving what was the best car in the field for a team he already had a very tight relationship with. For some reason, people seemed to think these times made ricciardo a revelation, and tht he could expect to replace Webber at Red Bull when Webber to retires. But if you look at the situation in Abu Dhabi both critically and objectively, there were a whole lot of factors that contributed to Ricciardo’s times – as his times in FP1 have demonstrated all year.

      • Toro Stevo said on 24th June 2011, 12:03

        I wasn’t sure what to expect at the beginning of the year, hence why I’ve been keeping an eye on it. As there were strong murmurs about one of the full times being replaced by Ricciardo, they’re obviously one of the few teams where the FP1 times mean something.

        The average gap (if you don’t include the large gap at FP1 at Catalunya) is less than 2 tenths across the other 7 races. None of the three drivers have got a clear upper hand yet.

    • John Cousins said on 24th June 2011, 11:45

      Hmm, they should be demolishing him based on seat time… I think Ricciardo will be quick when given a REAL drive.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 12:20

        So, he’s basically being given an audition for a Formula 1 seat … and he’s deliberately holding back? Why on earth would he do that>

        • Toro Stevo said on 24th June 2011, 12:30

          No, he’s saying that given the amount of time the other two have had in the car, they should be beating his times more easily.

          Don’t know if I necessarily agree, the track doesn’t have much rubber down until Saturday, so how relevant it is to race pace is hard to say. That and we have no idea what settings each car is using and their respective fuel loads.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 12:32

            No, he’s saying that given the amount of time the other two have had in the car, they should be beating his times more easily.

            Why? Sure, they’re more familiar with the car, but they have testing programs to complete. FP1 is not about setting fast times – it’s about getting raw data.

          • Toro Stevo said on 24th June 2011, 16:35

            Why? Sure, they’re more familiar with the car, but they have testing programs to complete. FP1 is not about setting fast times – it’s about getting raw data.

            I agree with that comment, that’s what I effectively said in my second paragraph. However I do believe they are giving them similar conditions most of the time, given that they are grooming him for a spot and they want to compare like with like. But it’s impossible to know.

            All I was saying is you misinterpreted what John said in the first place. He made no comment that implied that Ricciardo was holding back during FP1. I gathered John just believed that with a full F1 racing program Ricciardo would be quicker. I believe that’s likely as well, but until he gets that opportunity none of us can actually know.

        • Sally said on 24th June 2011, 12:34

          Who said he was holding back? Can you not read? Going by your other posts it would seem not.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th June 2011, 12:53

            <blockquote<Who said he was holding back?
            John Cousins. He seems to think Ricciardo will only produce super-fast times once he gets a full-time racing drive.

        • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 24th June 2011, 13:57

          Or, it reads as follows: he has less time in the car, more miles means better times. Considering the first sentence mentions seat time. I’m not a native speaker, but that’s what I make of John’s comment.

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th June 2011, 13:39

    Technical question: Karun lost 2nd gear. How do the drivers/team work around this? Does he have to shift into 2nd and immediately into 3rd or can settings be changed to bypass the gear completely?

    • Sally said on 24th June 2011, 23:39

      With no clutch it’d be impossible to skip a gear without some sort of computer magic I would imagine. I would guess the drivers just tap up or down twice.

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