Vettel on the pace in Valencia

Updated: June 23, 2012

World champion Sebastian Vettel looked a good bet to end Formula One’s record run of different winners and complete a Valencia hat-trick with the fastest time in European Grand Prix free practice on Friday.

The 24-year-old Red Bull driver, winner at the Spanish street circuit for the past two years, lapped with a best time of one minute 39.334 seconds in the second session under cloudy skies.

Fellow-German Nico Hulkenberg lapped second fastest for Force India, 0.131 seconds slower, in a session that had seven different teams in the top eight places and separated by little more than half a second.

There was less than a second between Vettel and the Ferrari of 15th placed Brazilian Felipe Massa.

In a further indication of how close Sunday’s race could be, with overtaking always difficult and pole a huge advantage on Valencia’s twisty track, the top nine drivers in the morning were separated by less than three tenths.

1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull – Renault 1:39.334
2. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India-Mercedes 1:39.465
3. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber – Ferrari 1:39.595
4. Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1:39.601
5. Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams – Renault 1:39.644
6. Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India-Mercedes 1:39.700
7. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1:39.733
8. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus – Renault 1:39.868
9. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull – Renault 1:39.901
10. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1:39.926
11. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus – Renault 1:39.945
12. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1:39.990
13. Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams – Renault 1:40.075
14. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1:40.147
15. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:40.244
16. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber – Ferrari 1:40.511
17. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham – Renault 1:40.963
18. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso – Ferrari 1:41.121
19. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham – Renault 1:41.197
20. Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso – Ferrari 1:41.263
21. Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia – Cosworth 1:42.424
22. Charles Pic (France) Marussia – Cosworth 1:42.958
23. Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT – Cosworth 1:44.201
24. Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT – Cosworth 1:44.260