Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012

Maldonado heads close first session in Valencia

2012 European Grand Prix first practice

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012Pastor Maldonado led a tightly-bunched field in the first practice session for the European Grand Prix.

The top nine drivers ended the session covered by less than three-tenths of a second.

Both Red Bull drivers were within a tenth of a second off Maldonado when the chequered flag fell, Sebastian Vettel (pictured) ahead of Mark Webber.

Jenson Button seemed happier with the performance of his McLaren during the session, ending up 0.104s off Maldonado.

Home driver Fernando Alonso was fifth-quickest but angered Webber after holding up the Red Bull driver at the end of the lap later in the session.

Paul di Resta also featured in the close leading nine, joined by Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The two Lotuses were tenth and eleventh, Kimi Raikkonen leading Romain Grosjean.

The first session was run in cooler-than-expected conditions, track temperature rising to 32C by the end of practice. Drivers continued to improve their sector times up until the dying moments.

Caterham showed some potential, Heikki Kovalainen lapping quicker than both Toro Rosso’s and just a tenth of a second off Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas.

A DRS problem for Pedro de la Rosa delayed him earlier in the session – the wing jammed open, as Michael Schumacher’s did in Canada.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
118Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’40.89022
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’40.9730.08321
32Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’40.9840.09419
43Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’40.9940.10419
55Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’41.0650.17526
611Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’41.1050.21515
77Michael SchumacherMercedes1’41.1170.22722
84Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.1580.26818
98Nico RosbergMercedes1’41.1820.29221
109Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’41.6200.73022
1110Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’41.7840.89415
1214Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’41.8380.94819
1315Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’41.8610.97116
146Felipe MassaFerrari1’42.1091.21920
1512Jules BianchiForce India-Mercedes1’42.1751.28521
1619Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’42.2991.40924
1720Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’42.4421.55226
1817Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’42.7581.86827
1916Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’42.7771.88728
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’43.2092.31919
2125Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’44.1473.25719
2222Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’44.9964.10615
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’45.1204.23023
2424Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’45.3384.4487

2012 European Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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51 comments on “Maldonado heads close first session in Valencia”

  1. Maldonado fastest. Vettel second. All we need now is di Resta in third, and we’ve got the unholy trifecta of Formula 1’s most unpopular drivers at the pointy end of the field.

    1. I’ve never heard anything about di Resta being unpopular.

      1. He’s typically characterised as having a head that is too big for his helmet after he was quick to point out that he beat Vettel when they were in Formula 1, the obvious implication being that he feels he would be World Champion if he were in the same car as Vettel, irrespective of the difference in performance between Formula 1 and Formula 3 cars (and, as we have seen countless times, success in a feeder series does not automatically equal success in Formula 1). I’ve seen him derided over it countless times across the internet.

        1. He has a point…

          1. Does he? So if Lucas di Grassi were in a Force India, I guess he’d be beating Di Resta. Yes, it all makes perfect sense…

        2. Well, that would explain it. I don’t look at any F1 discussions beyond this site.

        3. If di Resta gets it for that, where does that put Schumi?

          I for one am not going to forget about his past antics, just because he’s getting his long overdue payback and everybody’s feeling sorry for him.

          1. There is a precedent with Michael Schumacher. He is, after all, a seven-time World Champion. Paul di Resta is not.

        4. I’ve never perceived that as being big headed, but merely being gritty, or fighty, for want of a better word.

        5. I personally wouldn’t have called it big headedness, but rather a ‘I deserve to be here.’ Everyone believes they can win, and there’s no doubt that Paul could win in the right car. For me it’s just Paul saying he is another driver who, given the opportunity, can win. I thought pretty much all drivers had the same mindset of ‘I can win.’

        6. @prisoner-monkeys It’s not like di Resta brings it up every time he’s interviewed – it’s just something journalists like to ask him. What’s he supposed to reply with? “I was lucky to beat Vettel, I’m a much worse driver than him and I couldn’t win a title in the Red Bull?” Of course not…

          Pretty much the only reason why anyone would dislike Paul is him being slightly boring.

          1. That’s the only reason I’m not fond of him. I know many other commenters would find different drivers boring, but I always zone out when Di Resta’s being interviewed! I just find him painfully boring! He reminds me of quick Nick Heidfeld – consistent, competent but to me he never looks like doing anything special the way someone like, say, Perez can.

      2. He gets a lot of bashing, because of the british media attention, just like Hamilton or Button, but he does not have an army of fans to outweigh the bashers. (yet)

        1. It seems unlikely to me that he’ll get an army of fans until he starts coming across as a bit more personable. He barely ever smiles, and when he does it comes across much like that infamous Gordon Brown grimace. Everything he says sounds rehearsed, too.

          I thought it was just me being harsh but someone on Sky mentioned his dour demeanour the other day. I really want to like him, too, because I’m getting patriotic in my old age.

    2. At the other end Kovalainen continue to impress, so much ahead of Petrov, can he make another Q2 by right this time ?

      Close call on top, but it seems like a break adjusting session looking at those lock up. And I don’t think we will have something before tomorrow as the track T° will change quite a lot and rubber will be left on the track by then

      1. Since when did FP1 times mean anything? Kovalainen might be nearly a second ahead of Petrov, but it’s more important to get through your testing programme in FP1 than it is to set fast lap times.

        1. Kovalainen has still out-qualified Petrov 6 – 1. So I’d say it’s still pretty fair to assume that if either of them are going to make it to Q2, it’s likely to be Kovalainen.

    3. You forgot Schumacher in 4th and then the deck would be complete!

    4. @prisoner-monkeys Last time we checked on here the three least supported active drivers were Pedro de la Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Pic:

      Paul di Resta is seventh.

      1. @keithcollantine Yes, but there’s no subtraction for the number of haters. Charles Pic has very little supporters, but I don’t think too many people dislike him, whereas Vettel has almost 400 supporters, but for all we know, there might be 500 people that dislike him, which would make his popularity -100.

      2. @keithcollantine – I think there is a difference between not having supporters and not being popular. Pastor Maldoando might have fifty-one supporters, but look at the reactions to the incident in Monaco with Sergio Perez. Vettel might have three hundred and ninety-two supporters, but how many people have criticised him for his finger gesture because they feel he assumes he will be first? And Paul di Resta might have four hundred and forty-nine supporters, but as I’ve described, he’s been the target of some scathing criticism for his comments about Vettel.

        There is a difference between not having supporters and not being popular.

        1. RedBullaway!!!!
          22nd June 2012, 12:30

          And that Vettel never wins driver of the weekend here and pretty much everwhere else as the voters usually find another driver to pick for “valid reasons”, “Oh but Kimi had a good race.” (In the best car that weekend) but yet Vettel gets pole and wins with debatably the 3rd best car?

          Seems like Vettel is the only driver that cant get the majority when it’s a pole (or leading into the first corner) to flag victory unlike others who have done the same job this season. Button wins poll hands down for Australia, Maldonado wins poll hands down for Spain, Nico wins poll hands down for China, Webber wins poll hands down for Monaco, but Vettel doesn’t with Bahrain? Yeah I dont believe this belief that everybody makes an unbiased vote here anymore and no poll telling me otherwise will convince me as it’s obviously a lie, but on no fault of you Keith.

          If Vettel could be linked to any other kind of person in the past it would of been a leper!

          1. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
            22nd June 2012, 14:00

            +1 man you say things like Webber… yes I wonder why Vettel is so-hated. I almost laughed when one of the reasons mentioned above is for using “the finger” hahahha!!! So the most sensible reason for not picking him driver of the week is “because of the finger” (people crying here) hahaha!!!

        2. Vettel is very likeable most of the time, but has made patronising comments in the past about fellow drivers and who can forget his swirlygig gesture towards Webber in 2010. Hamilton has done the same in his infamous Monaco interview.

          Neither have driven into fellow competitors on purpose however out of anger and then showed no guilt or remorse for it. That is why Maldonado is ‘hated’ as people put it because of his anger management problem and people don’t like that kind of attitude, especially on top of his ‘drivers can make a difference’ comments. I have seen him interviewed on the flying lap a couple of times however and he seems like a nice bloke when not angry ;)

          Alonso was hated after spy/crash-gate and now as far as I can see he is generally liked again as he was when he was beating Schumi in 2005/06.

      3. @necrodethmortem @prisoner-monkeys I agree there’s a difference between having supporters and being disliked. But I see no reason to single out the three drivers that have been picked out beyond a few highly debatable observations about comments that some people make about them. Others may consider Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton unpopular drivers for similar reasons.

        I don’t know if anyone has ever polled on ‘least popular F1 drivers’ – it’s certainly not something I’m going to do – but I can supply the data I do have and I don’t believe it goes very far towards supporting your view.

        1. I see no reason to single out the three drivers that have been picked out beyond a few highly debatable observations about comments that some people make about them. Others may consider Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton unpopular drivers for similar reasons.

          I think the difference is that although, say, Alonso has his detractors, he hasn’t come up against uniform criticism the way Maldonado has.

          1. I think the difference is that although, say, Alonso has his detractors, he hasn’t come up against uniform criticism the way Maldonado has.

            as far as I remember there’s been quite a lot of it actually!

            Its just something that comes and goes. People seem to want “badguys” almost as much as “good guys/heroes”

          2. @BasCB Couldn’t agree more, every good story has an antagonist. Noone would give a damn about Harry Potter if there was no Lord Voldemort.

          3. Alonso has his detractors, he hasn’t come up against uniform criticism the way Maldonado has

            I never knew you only started watching F1 in 2009. Interesting.

      4. @keithcollantine, to be fair to prisoner monkeys, not being popular is not the same as being disliked. Lewis Hamilton, for example, has a lot of followers (also on this site), but there are also a lot of people that don’t like him (I guess). Prisoner monkeys is suggesting that it is the same for Paul di Resta (although I suspect that the number of people disliking DiResta is lower than what PM seems to be suggesting).

        1. Oops, sorry, should have updated my browser before posting, as I’m not the first one making this point.

        2. I guess we are asking here who are the ‘marmite drivers’ if I may put it like that.

          Di Resta seems more of a marmalade man to me.

      5. If we we went purely on negative comments on F1Fanatic, #1 would surely be Senna courtesy of PMs posts.

    5. That must be your own personal list. Di Resta is popular.

    6. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      22nd June 2012, 13:50

      Vettel unpopular? On this site or at this time of the day maybe…
      Di Resta unpopular? Even when he speaks first and thinks then, he has a big bunch of fans
      Maldonado? he… he is unpopular :)

      1. I heard Maldonado is practically a hero in Venezuela. :P

        Anyway, I don’t think any driver is going to surpass Marko Helmut as the most unpopular person on the paddock. :)

  2. I’m still rooting for a win for lotus or schumacher, or at least our 8th different winner. (perez? massa?)

    But if we have to have the first repeat winner of the season, wouldn’t it be a hoot if it turned out to be Maldonado :-P

    1. If that happens, I think the internet might break.

    2. Given the championship standings, either him, or Button would be a good repeat winner. If we have to see an 8th, that should be Schu, he had a fair amount of bad luck over the first 7 races.

    3. that would certainly be a major upset for the big teams and it would make a lot of people go crazy!

  3. It’s quite staggering to think that when I started watching Grand Prix you could end up easily with 2 secs or more separating 1st and 2nd in the timesheets on practice. Now we get 19 cars in that gap.

  4. If its hot, then RB will win it just like in Bahrain.

    1. or Lotus

  5. Maldonado cooled off and ready to go? Impressive from Caterham so far.

    1. Really it is. Caterham was quite strong in Monaco so I except either in here.

  6. Great. It’s so competitive.

  7. A few stats on the FP1 results this year:

    * Today saw the first time when someone else than McLaren or Ferrari drivers topped an FP1 session
    * Vettel has never set the fastest time in any 2012 FP1 session but he has been 2nd for five times
    * Hamilton has ‘won’ most FP1 sessions so far: 4.
    * Only twice the quickest driver in FP1 went on to win the race on Sunday and both times it was a McLaren driver, Button at Melbourne and Hamilton at Montreal.
    * If points were awarded for FP1 session results, then Hamilton would be leading the championship with 138 points, followed by Vettel (98) and Alonso (84). Schumacher would be sixth in the standings with 64 points.
    * Raikkonen is the driver with the biggest positive difference between the actual points and the ‘FP1 points’. His best FP1 result is only 7th and he would have got only 13 points for this, 42 less than his actual tally.

    1. How bored were you when you worked that lot out? It does tell us something though: never read too much into FP1 results!

  8. Things do look very competitive. Looks promising from Button too, hope it stays that way, I really want him in the championship fight!

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