Maldonado ahead in Valencia first practice

Pastor Maldonado was marginally fastest in first practice

Pastor Maldonado was marginally fastest in first practice

Pastor Maldonado gave an indicator of Williams’ returning pace, as he topped the timesheets for Friday Practice 1 in Valencia.

Both Red Bull drivers were within a tenth of Maldonado by the end of the session, with Sebastian Vettel pipping Mark Webber by 0.011 seconds.

The field was incredibly bunched up, even by 2012 standards, as the top 8 drivers were separated by 3 tenths of a second.

Jenson Button showed he may be getting on top of his tyre issues, finishing 4th, and only a tenth off Maldonado. Despite being tipped to shine this weekend, the Lotus drivers were 10th and 11th.

Heikki Kovalainen continued to make progress for Caterham, finishing ahead of both Toro Rossos and was only a tenth of Valtteri Bottas for Williams.

Pedro de la Rosa’s DRS jammed open during FP1, similarly to Michael Schumacher’s incident in Canada.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:40.890           22
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:40.973  +0.083   21
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:40.984  +0.094   19
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:40.994  +0.104   19
 5.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:41.065  +0.175   26
 6.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:41.105  +0.215   15
 7.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:41.117  +0.227   22
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:41.158  +0.268   18
 9.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:41.182  +0.292   21
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:41.620  +0.730   21
11.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:41.784  +0.894   15
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:41.838  +0.948   19
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:41.861  +0.971   16
14.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:42.109  +1.219   20
15.  Jules Bianchi         Force India-Mercedes  1:42.175  +1.285   21
16.  Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault      1:42.299  +1.409   24
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:42.442  +1.552   26
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:42.758  +1.868   26
19.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:42.777  +1.887   28
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:43.209  +2.319   19
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:44.173  +3.283   18
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:44.996  +4.106   15
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:45.120  +4.230   23
24.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:45.338  +4.448    7
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