F1 Valencia FP1 Results & Report: Webber Puts Red Bull On Top in Uneventful Session

What Happens When I Can’t Believe I Forgot to Post the Canadian GP Report

5:47am EST — Mark Webber (1:40.403) was fastest for much of the first practice session for the 2011 European Grand Prix. Vitaly Petrov, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Nick Heidfeld were the fastest five in a generally uneventful session on the Valencia street circuit. Sebastian Vettel was seventeenth fastest, as the dusty circuit took time to rubber in and most teams spent the session working on aerodynamic testing.. Only Nico Hulkenberg, in for Paul di Resta at Force India for just the Friday morning practice session, was an early leader until a bobble under breaking sent him skidding along the wall, ending his session. As the session ended, Timo Glock lost the rear and slid sideways across the track, though he involved no one else in his incident.

Vettel and Hulkenberg were the first drivers onto the streets of Valencia, quickly followed by Alguersuari and others. There was no rain, but the sky did not look as brilliantly sunny as it often does when F1 visits the Spanish seaside city and was lightly overcast. Just five minutes into the ninety minute session, only Hamilton, Button, Schumacher, Heidfeld, and Barrichello had yet to complete an installation lap, though no times were yet set. Roseberg was the first to set a time, a couple of minutes later, completing the lap distance in a very slow 2:06.412.

Button’s first lap looked to be much quicker than Rosberg’s, but the Briton did not complete it and returned to the garage with just an installation lap. With the drivers complaining of the dusty track, most were back in the garage and waiting for others to clear the dirt from the circuit. Only Heidfeld had yet to do his instal lap. He finally did so just fifteen minutes into the session, complete with aerodynamic testing paint.

Hulkenberg was the first to set a lap approaching usual speeds soon thereafter, completing his lap in 1:47.942, then dropping to a 1:44.929. Schumacher soon joined him on the timesheets, eight seconds slower. Hulkenberg continued to circulate and better his time while most of the other drivers stayed in the garage. However, his progress was impeded when lost control under braking for Turn 12, having hit the wall and damaged the left side of di Resta’s Force India.

More times began to appear a third of the way through the session. Hulkenberg’s time was still fastest, followed by Maldonado, Alguersuari, Ricciardo, Schumacher, and Rosberg. Moments later, Maldonado (1:43.455) jumped to the top position. More times began to trickle in, as over half the field had set a time with fifty-five minutes remaining. Schumacher soon took the fastest lap away from Ricciardo, who had done so to Maldonado, only for Massa (1:42.530) to go fastest of all. Heidfeld slotted into second soon thereafter. Alonso then took over from his teammate, nearly a second faster. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s DRS was not working, much to the concern of the driver. McLaren promptly informed him that they’ve turned it off for the aero tests this morning. Meanwhile, Lotus was on the radio frantically telling Chandhok to not use second gear and only use the high gears.

At the halfway point, Alonso led over Sutil, Massa, Button, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Petrov, Schumacher, Hamilton, and Barrichello as the top ten. Only Vettel, D’Ambrosio, Kovalainen, Kobayashi, and Chandhok had yet to set a time as Webber went fifteenth fastest on his first fast lap. Button soon moved up to third fastest, as Webber slotted into sixth. The Australian next moved up to second fastest while his teammate remained in the garage. He continued his march forward, going fastest of all (1:40.852 with around thirty-five minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Vettel’s first lap was eighteenth fastest. Only D’Ambrosio and Chandhok had not set a time with thirty-five minutes to go.

Webber (1:40.403) continued to improve his time at the top of the timesheets, while Alonso (+.836), Massa (+1.355), Button, Sutil, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Alguersuari, and Maldonado filled out the fastest ten. Drivers continued to slide off the dusty track onto the runoff areas as the sun shone brightly along the waterfront. Heidfeld soon displaced Massa in the first session of the weekend, where times may or may not matter at all, but track time certainly does. Barrichello, back in the garage, was complaining of a “big vibration” when he goes fast with just over twenty minutes remaining. At that point, only a third of the field was circulating on the track.

Petrov, though, was making use of his time to go second fastest, a hundredth faster than Alonso. Most drivers who were on track appeared to be proceeding in the typical Friday data-gathering fashion as the minutes ticked down. Hamilton then moved up a couple of positions to fourth after Maldondado drifted his way through a turn without smashing the Williams into a wall.

Webber continued to lead with his earlier time when just ten minutes remained. Petrov, Alonso, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Massa, Button, Sutil, Rosberg, and Algersuari were the fastest ten, with Vettel seventeenth fastest and over three seconds slower than his teammate. Most drivers were back out with just over five minutes remaining and shuffling the order about a bit. Though Hamilton felt his brakes were running too hot, the team informed him that it was simply the calipers that were too warm. In the final minute, Glock slid around at Turn 5. His Virgin Racing car remained sideways in the middle of the track, though the German attempted to push it forward and out of the way of traffic. Webber ended the session on top, as the top five stayed the same.

Final Times for FP1, 2011 European Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:40.403 22
2. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:41.227 +0.824 20
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:41.239 +0.836 22
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:41.510 +1.107 23
5. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:41.580 +1.1771 24
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:41.758 +1.355 23
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.926 +1.523 14
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:41.955 +1.552 20
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:42.043 +1.640 22
10. Jaime Algersuari Toro Rosso 1:42.216 +1.813 29
11. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:42.270 +1.867 26
12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:42.412 +2.009 27
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:42.704 +2.301 23
14. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:42.738 +2.335 20
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:42.841 +2.438 28
16. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:42.941 +2.538 21
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:43.201 +2.798 18
18. Nick Hulkenberg Force India 1:43.769 +3.366 7
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:44.136 +3.733 17
20. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:45.026 +4.623 17
21. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:45.221 +4.818 19
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:45.494 +5.091 24
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:46.926 +6.523 27
24. Karun Chandhok Lotus no time no time 2

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