• Spanish Grand Prix - FP2

Button lays down Spanish marker

ESPN Staff
May 11, 2012

Jenson Button laid down an important marker for the Spanish Grand Prix weekend after finishing on top of the timesheets after Friday's free practice sessions.

The McLaren driver began the session on the harder compound tyres and complained of 'unbelievable understeer' despite the team running a new front wing configuration. But a switch to the softer compound Pirelli tyres produced the required effect, Button clocking a best effort of 1:23.399 as the lap times tumbled in the afternoon heat.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel finished second quickest, as he had done in the morning session, ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. The Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were fifth and sixth on the timesheets and could be a team to watch this weekend after both had their fastest laps compromised.

Morning pace setter Fernando Alonso finished well down the timesheets - possibly as a result of experimenting with a longer running race configuration - but he too had to back out of his first flying lap on soft tyres due to traffic and had lost some performance by the end of his next attempt.

Button was not the only driver to struggle early on, Fernando Alonso sliding wide into turn seven. Despite his brief wobble, a 1:24.733 put him fastest, but his spell at the top was short lived as first Jean-Eric Vergne then Sebastian Vettel bettered the mark on the softer compound tyre as the track temperature rose to a baking 44 degrees.

As drivers explored their limits on the grippier compound, so the errors began to creep in, Mark Webber having an off-track excursion into the gravel at turn four, the floor of his RB8 scooping up gravel and stones and depositing it onto the racing line of the circuit in the process. Sergio Perez followed suit in exactly the same spot, he too ploughing through the gravel before rejoining the circuit.

A number of drivers ran wide as their tyres started to struggle on longer runs, with Hamilton twice getting it wrong at turn 13 and cutting out the chicane altogether. Bruno Senna followed the McLaren on one such occasion, before ending his session facing the wrong way having spun at turn 12.

Narain Karthikeyan endured a miserable session. Having sat out the majority of the session as his team battled to rectify an electrical problem, the HRT grinding to a halt at turn three on his out lap.