• European Grand Prix - FP2

Alonso quickest on home soil

ESPNF1 Staff
June 25, 2010 « Schumacher shrugs off criticism | »

Fernando Alonso gave the Valencia home fans something to cheer about after setting the fastest time of Friday's free practice for the European Grand Prix.

Alonso, who was ninth quickest after the first session, clocked a best time of 1:39.283 to finish ahead of the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The lap went some way to confirming the improved pace of the updated Ferrari, which features a Red Bull-style blown diffuser to improve rear-end downforce. Mercedes is also debuting a similar system this weekend and Nico Rosberg made good use of the extra high-speed grip to get within 0.367 of Alonso in fourth place.

However, the true pace of the front runners will not be revealed until tomorrow's final practice session, as most drivers set times on heavy fuel loads on Friday afternoon. Lewis Hamilton was 0.466 seconds off the pace in fifth position ahead of Robert Kubica in sixth. The top six was made up of five different cars, separated by just 0.6 seconds, indicating that qualifying should be a very closely fought contest.

Less competitive was Felipe Massa, who was 0.664 off the pace of his team-mate after a spin 30 minutes into the session. He stalled the car and had to walk back to the pit, but still managed to get out for the final 30 minutes in order to get some crucial running on the softer tyre.

Also struggling was Jenson Button in eighth, nearly 0.3 seconds off his team-mate. It was a straightforward session for the world champion but he appeared to struggle for grip as reports from the pits flagged up severe tyre graining on some of the cars.

Michael Schumacher failed to make the top 10 and was over 0.6 seconds off his team-mate Rosberg and a second off the fastest lap of Alonso. Towards the end of the session he nearly banged wheels with Hamilton, after Schumacher slowed towards the end of the lap and held the McLaren up. Hamilton raised his hands from the steering wheel and blocked Schumacher from the next corner but it is unlikely any further action will be taken.

Other drivers to watch out for in qualifying are Force India's Adrian Sutil and the Williams of Rubens Barrichello. Sutil finished Friday's afternoon session eighth, while Barrichello ended up tenth.

At the back of the field the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen was again the fastest of the new teams but still a second adrift of the 18th placed Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari.