Button leads Lotuses as practice ends in Valencia

2012 European Grand Prix third practice

Jenson Button, McLaren, Valencia, 2012Jenson Button was quickest in the final practice session as he appears to have made progress with his McLaren.

The Lotus pair were second and third fastest as traffic prevented several drivers from improving at the end of the session.

The Lotus drivers were first onto track in warmed conditions than had greeted the drivers on Friday. Track temperature reached 38C by the end of the session.

Kimi Raikkonen led Romain Grosjean by just under three tenths of a second to begin with.

They were then beaten by Lewis Hamilton, who edged Raikkonen’s mark by the slender margin of three-thousandths of a second. Next to take over at the top was Pastor Maldonado, who beat Hamilton’s time by three-hundredths.

Ferrari and Red Bull had a quiet start to the session but now they showed their hand. Sebastian Vettel’s second quick lap was just six-hundredths slower than Maldonado’s – but that left him fourth. On his next run he went fastest, putting three-tenths of a second between him and the Williams.

But team mate Mark Webber hit trouble – having set a time of 1’41.282 he returned to the pits and did not re-appear, a brake problem limiting him to just four laps.

Grosjean was the first to try the soft tyres, and despite running slightly wide at turn 17 a 1’38.655 was enough to put him comfortably fastest.

Raikkonen fell short in his bid to beat his team mate’s time when he tried the soft tyres a quarter of an hour later, crossing the line a tenth of a second slower than Grosjean. It was Button who finally demoted the Lotus with five minutes remaining.

But their rivals struggled to find space on a congested track in the closing minutes. Vettel had to abort his last run but was advised to find clear air to set some quick sector times on his in-lap. This he did, topping the times in the first and second sectors before returning to the pits.

The Force Indias repeated their pace from Friday, Nico Hulkenberg leading Paul di Resta in fourth and fifth places.

Pedro de la Rosa lost control of his HRT again but didn’t hit anything this time – spinning to a stop at the final corner.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.562 17
2 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’38.655 0.093 18
3 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’38.759 0.197 18
4 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’38.819 0.257 17
5 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’38.892 0.330 17
6 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.084 0.522 20
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’39.141 0.579 15
8 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’39.178 0.616 17
9 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’39.318 0.756 15
10 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’39.357 0.795 18
11 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.358 0.796 19
12 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.395 0.833 15
13 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’39.434 0.872 13
14 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’39.543 0.981 13
15 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’39.946 1.384 20
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.037 1.475 17
17 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.134 1.572 20
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’40.681 2.119 15
19 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’41.282 2.720 4
20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’41.931 3.369 15
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’42.758 4.196 14
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.815 4.253 14
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’42.943 4.381 14
24 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’43.124 4.562 16

Sector times and ultimate laps

Here are the drivers’ theoretical best lap times based on their fastest sectors:

Car Driver Car Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3 Ultimate lap Gap
1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 26.054 44.719 27.789 1’38.562
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 25.940 44.691 27.985 1’38.616 0.054
3 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 25.988 44.765 27.902 1’38.655 0.093
4 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 26.240 44.793 27.664 1’38.697 0.135
5 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 26.126 44.785 27.848 1’38.759 0.197
6 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 26.113 44.765 27.907 1’38.785 0.223
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 26.216 44.940 27.917 1’39.073 0.511
8 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 26.105 45.110 27.869 1’39.084 0.522
9 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 26.193 44.974 28.011 1’39.178 0.616
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 26.192 44.961 28.062 1’39.215 0.653
11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 26.265 44.887 28.123 1’39.275 0.713
12 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 26.157 45.288 27.884 1’39.329 0.767
13 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 26.230 45.161 27.966 1’39.357 0.795
14 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 26.263 45.112 28.005 1’39.380 0.818
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 26.287 45.308 27.948 1’39.543 0.981
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 26.519 45.159 28.172 1’39.850 1.288
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 26.603 45.181 28.174 1’39.958 1.396
18 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 26.664 45.516 28.501 1’40.681 2.119
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 26.618 45.779 28.628 1’41.025 2.463
20 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 27.304 45.621 28.357 1’41.282 2.720
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 27.132 46.545 29.081 1’42.758 4.196
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 27.255 46.671 28.889 1’42.815 4.253
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 27.182 46.801 28.960 1’42.943 4.381
24 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 27.208 46.896 29.020 1’43.124 4.562

Combined practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 FP3 Fri/Sat diff Total laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.994 1’39.990 1’38.562 -1.428 69
2 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’41.784 1’39.868 1’38.655 -1.213 66
3 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’41.620 1’39.945 1’38.759 -1.186 74
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’39.465 1’38.819 -0.646 49
5 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’41.105 1’39.700 1’38.892 -0.808 64
6 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.861 1’40.511 1’39.084 -1.427 65
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’41.117 1’39.601 1’39.141 -0.46 64
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.158 1’40.147 1’39.178 -0.969 60
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’42.109 1’40.244 1’39.318 -0.926 70
10 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’40.973 1’39.334 1’39.434 +0.1 67
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’40.890 1’40.075 1’39.357 -0.718 69
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.838 1’39.595 1’39.358 -0.237 58
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.065 1’39.733 1’39.395 -0.338 75
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’39.644 1’39.543 -0.101 47
15 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.984 1’39.901 1’41.282 +1.381 53
16 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.182 1’39.926 1’39.946 +0.02 73
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.758 1’41.263 1’40.037 -1.226 73
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.777 1’41.121 1’40.134 -0.987 80
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’42.442 1’41.197 1’40.681 -0.516 79
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’43.209 1’40.963 1’41.931 +0.968 54
21 Jules Bianchi Force India-Mercedes 1’42.175 21
22 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’42.299 24
23 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’45.338 1’42.424 1’43.124 +0.7 44
24 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’44.996 1’44.260 1’42.758 -1.502 41
25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’44.147 1’42.958 1’42.815 -0.143 63
26 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’45.120 1’44.201 1’42.943 -1.258 70

2012 European Grand Prix

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13 comments on Button leads Lotuses as practice ends in Valencia

  1. sandy (@sandy) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:16

    lotus pace was pretty impressive..grosjean’s lap was earlier in the session and raikkonen’s lap was in a 7 lap stint

  2. usukpam (@usukpam) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:24

    Was Lewis that slow or did he run into trafic ?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:29

      @usukpam I don’t believe he’s suddenly six tenths of a second slower than Button. Looks like there was quite a bit of radio chatter about traffic near him, so that’s my guess.

    • Oople said on 23rd June 2012, 11:30

      Many are saying he was on a different program… Which makes sense, given the stints he was doing.

      So don’t look too deeply into him being eighth ^_^

    • Young said on 23rd June 2012, 12:20

      He actually eased off in the middle after one too many vehicles got in the way. So the team at least have done their homework last night since they are faster in this session.

  3. LexBlair (@lexblair) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:51

    it seems as if Button´s mojo is back.. :)he has done a pretty good job in all 3 practice sessions… i don´t wanna jinx it, but lets hope he is finally recovering from his recent slumps..

    • Eric Morman (@lethalnz) said on 23rd June 2012, 12:03

      Jensen is now running a very similar set-up to Lewis and gone away from what he was trying to achieve by himself.
      so i would put my money on Hamilton to come through when it counts..

      • Carl Craven said on 23rd June 2012, 12:46

        Usually Lewis has the qualification and Button the race pace. Although Lewis’s race craft has improved a lot this season, so maybe he could do a Button on Button.

  4. Pedro Costa (@pnunocosta) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:52

    I would definitely put my money on Vettel for pole and if the Lotus qualify on the front 2 rows they might give him an hard time. Mclaren will qualify well but some doubts about long run pace. What about Ferrari, as it looks they took a big slump in performance especially in the softer tyres!?

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 23rd June 2012, 11:52

    It should be insane qualifying!!

  6. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 23rd June 2012, 12:02

    I think the reason Valencia is so difficult to predict is that in the past, it has been very predictable. It’s hard to find a balance between what we’d usually expect from Valencia, which is a very processional race after qualifying, and then whether that will be different considering how we’ve seen cars with better race pace coming through, despite having a bad qualifying.

    I think it will be Vettel and the two Lotuses near the front, with Webber just behind them. But behind them, it will be hard to decide whether Alonso can do well, if McLaren’s race pace will be enough to keep them ahead (considering their qualifying will probably get them in the top 10), and whether the Force Indias will qualify well enough to compliment their obviously good race pace.

    Could we be in for an exciting European GP?

  7. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd June 2012, 12:44

    Brilliant to see Button on top, hope he can remain competitive for the rest of the weekend. Strongest showing from Lotus yet, this is perhaps their best chance this season after Bahrain. Good to see FI up there too, a podium for them would be cool.

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