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Friday analysis - tight at the top (for now at least) 24 Jun 2011

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31 practices a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM04. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Rosso STR6 Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) F111. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 24 June 2011

Many fans hope the tweaks to the engine mapping regulations this weekend could mean a tougher fight for Red Bull in qualifying. Friday afternoon’s times in Valencia suggested that they may just get their wish, though the fact that Sebastian Vettel ran a completely different programme in the morning (a post-off throttle blown diffuser ban set-up in preparation for Silverstone was the most popular rumour) would suggest the world champions are not too worried just yet. We take a team-by-team look at early progress in Spain…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 41.239s, P3/1m 37.968s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 41.758s, P6/1m 38.443s, P5

A good start for Ferrari, with both drivers completing their planned programmes and showing good pace. Alonso said, however, that having gone well on a Friday in the past, only to lose out on a Saturday, he doesn’t even want to consider the lap times today. Massa said the car feels competitive here and he expects to run strongly, as Ferrari did in Canada.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 41.510s, P4/1m 38.195s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 41.926s, P7/1m 38.483s, P6

McLaren spent the morning testing new parts which they will run from Silverstone onwards when the blown diffuser ban comes into effect. Both drivers struggled initially on the medium Pirellis but were happy with their performance on the option, though they felt the balance of the MP4-26 could still be improved.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 42.941s, P16/1m 38.265s, P3
Mark Webber, 1m 40.403s, P1/1m 38.531s, P7

Vettel spent the morning running a different (but undisclosed) programme from most of his fellows, hence his 16th position, but was back in the thick of things in the afternoon. While the times were close, he said he had a good feeling, which usually presages pain for his rivals. Webber was fastest in the morning on the medium Pirellis, and was satisfied with his afternoon runs on the option tyre. If they are worried about the effect of the engine mapping rule change, they are doing a good job of hiding it.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 42.270s, P11/1m 38.315s, P4
Nico Rosberg, 1m 42.043s, P9/1m 38.981s, P8

Both drivers struggled a little as they experimented with set-ups in the morning, but things came together well in the afternoon and Schumacher in particular said he took a good feeling from the day’s work which should stand them in good stead for qualifying.

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 41.580s, P5/1m 39.040s, P9
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 41.227s, P2/1m 39.586s, P10

Renault had a productive day with new aero parts which included a revised rear wing. Petrov ran well in the morning but was unconvinced about a major set-up change in the afternoon. Heidfeld said he had a good day when he managed his best-ever long run in the afternoon.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 41.955s, P8/1m 39.626s, P11
Paul di Resta, (pm only) 1m 40.363s, P14
Nico Hulkenberg (am only) 1m 43.769s, P18

Sutil said he had a positive day which entailed evaluation of new aero parts, and was happy with his VJM-04’s balance. Hulkenberg crashed Di Resta’s car in the morning after getting caught out on the still ‘green’ track, so the Scot only got three timed laps in the afternoon once it was repaired. In the circumstances, he did a fine job.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 42.704s, P13/1m 40.020s, P12
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 42.841s, P15/1m 40.301s, P13

Williams had a busy day testing a new exhaust and rear wing. Barrichello was happy with the way his programme went, but Maldonado lost a little bit of time at the end of the afternoon due to a slow puncture.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi (pm only) 1m 40.454s, P15
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 42.216s, P10/no time, P24
Daniel Ricciardo (am only) 1m 42.412s, P12

Ricciardo made full use of his simulator running to do a solid job in the morning. He was 12th and Alguersuari 10th, but the Spaniard had to sit out the afternoon session because of an undisclosed engine problem. Buemi did only that session, and worked hard to get the braking stability that he feels is the secret to competitive pace here.

Sauber
Sergio Perez 1m 42.738s, P14/1m 40.531s, P16
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 43.201s, P17/1m 42.083s, P17

Perez had no ill effects from his Monaco shunt this time, but Sauber look off the pace here and have lots of work to do overnight to rectify that. Both the Mexican and Kobayashi complained of low grip, but the Japanese driver also had a throttle problem which lost him time in the morning. He also flat-spotted the right front immediately in the afternoon when he was on a soft-tyre run.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 44.136s, P19/1m 42.156s, P18
Jarno Trulli (pm only), 1m 42.239s, P19
Karun Chandhok (am only), no time, P24

Chandhok did only two slow laps in his morning session run because of a problem with a brand new gearbox. Trulli took over the car in the afternoon and said he was happy with a new power steering option, while Kovalainen reported an uneventful day working on set-up.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 45.221s, P21/1m 42.273s, P20
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 45.026s, P20/1m 42.809s, P21

Both drivers reported a good day in which they did plenty of productive running.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 45.494s, P22/1m 44.460s, P22
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 46.926s, P23/1m 46.906s, P23

No real problems here, as the drivers made the best of the package at their disposal until a big update comes for Silverstone.

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