Jenson Button, McLaren, Valencia, 2012

Button leads Lotuses as practice ends in Valencia

2012 European Grand Prix third practice

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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.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’38.56217
210Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’38.6550.09318
39Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’38.7590.19718
412Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’38.8190.25717
511Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’38.8920.33017
615Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’39.0840.52220
77Michael SchumacherMercedes1’39.1410.57915
84Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’39.1780.61617
96Felipe MassaFerrari1’39.3180.75615
1018Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’39.3570.79518
1114Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’39.3580.79619
125Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’39.3950.83315
131Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’39.4340.87213
1419Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’39.5430.98113
158Nico RosbergMercedes1’39.9461.38420
1617Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’40.0371.47517
1716Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’40.1341.57220
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’40.6812.11915
192Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’41.2822.7204
2021Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’41.9313.36915
2122Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’42.7584.19614
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’42.8154.25314
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’42.9434.38114
2424Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’43.1244.56216

Sector times and ultimate laps

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

CarDriverCarSector 1Sector 2Sector 3Ultimate lapGap
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes26.05444.71927.7891’38.562
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault25.94044.69127.9851’38.6160.054
310Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault25.98844.76527.9021’38.6550.093
411Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes26.24044.79327.6641’38.6970.135
59Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault26.12644.78527.8481’38.7590.197
612Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes26.11344.76527.9071’38.7850.223
77Michael SchumacherMercedes26.21644.94027.9171’39.0730.511
815Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari26.10545.11027.8691’39.0840.522
94Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes26.19344.97428.0111’39.1780.616
108Nico RosbergMercedes26.19244.96128.0621’39.2150.653
116Felipe MassaFerrari26.26544.88728.1231’39.2750.713
1214Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari26.15745.28827.8841’39.3290.767
1318Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault26.23045.16127.9661’39.3570.795
145Fernando AlonsoFerrari26.26345.11228.0051’39.3800.818
1519Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault26.28745.30827.9481’39.5430.981
1616Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari26.51945.15928.1721’39.8501.288
1717Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari26.60345.18128.1741’39.9581.396
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault26.66445.51628.5011’40.6812.119
1921Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault26.61845.77928.6281’41.0252.463
202Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault27.30445.62128.3571’41.2822.720
2122Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth27.13246.54529.0811’42.7584.196
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth27.25546.67128.8891’42.8154.253
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth27.18246.80128.9601’42.9434.381
2424Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth27.20846.89629.0201’43.1244.562

Combined practice times

PosDriverCarFP1FP2FP3Fri/Sat diffTotal laps
1Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’40.9941’39.9901’38.562-1.42869
2Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’41.7841’39.8681’38.655-1.21366
3Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’41.6201’39.9451’38.759-1.18674
4Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’39.4651’38.819-0.64649
5Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’41.1051’39.7001’38.892-0.80864
6Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’41.8611’40.5111’39.084-1.42765
7Michael SchumacherMercedes1’41.1171’39.6011’39.141-0.4664
8Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.1581’40.1471’39.178-0.96960
9Felipe MassaFerrari1’42.1091’40.2441’39.318-0.92670
10Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’40.9731’39.3341’39.434+0.167
11Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’40.8901’40.0751’39.357-0.71869
12Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’41.8381’39.5951’39.358-0.23758
13Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’41.0651’39.7331’39.395-0.33875
14Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’39.6441’39.543-0.10147
15Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’40.9841’39.9011’41.282+1.38153
16Nico RosbergMercedes1’41.1821’39.9261’39.946+0.0273
17Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’42.7581’41.2631’40.037-1.22673
18Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’42.7771’41.1211’40.134-0.98780
19Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’42.4421’41.1971’40.681-0.51679
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’43.2091’40.9631’41.931+0.96854
21Jules BianchiForce India-Mercedes1’42.17521
22Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’42.29924
23Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’45.3381’42.4241’43.124+0.744
24Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’44.9961’44.2601’42.758-1.50241
25Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’44.1471’42.9581’42.815-0.14363
26Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’45.1201’44.2011’42.943-1.25870

2012 European Grand Prix

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13 comments on “Button leads Lotuses as practice ends in Valencia”

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

    1. Grosjean messed up S3, Kimi messed up S1….hopefully they have more in the bag

  2. Was Lewis that slow or did he run into trafic ?

    1. @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.

    2. 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 ^_^

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

    1. 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..

      1. 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. 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. It should be insane qualifying!!

  6. 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. 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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