Barcelona Practice 2: Button leads the way at the end of the first day 11 May, 2012 Jenson Button fastest at the end of the first day in Barcelona May 11 (GP247) Jenson Button ended day one of the Spanish Grand Prix weekend in Barcelona fastest of all, as the true pecking order started to emerge by the end of the day indicating that the tussle for top honours should be between McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Lotus. Sebastian Vettel second fastest But for Ferrari they appear to lack the pace to mix it at the front despite a host of highly publicised updates to their cursed F2012. Again a Ferrari powered Sauber was faster than the pedigreed offering from Maranello. At the front, with a set of soft option tyres bolted on Button powered around the Circuit de Catalunya in 1 minute 23.399 seconds, after overcoming a bout of understeer on the McLaren MP4-27 early on in the session. A few setup tweaks by his crew appeared to have sorted it out for the Englishman who won the 2009 Spanish Grand Prix. Second fastest was Bahrain GP winner Sebastian Vettel again showing strong pace and consistency in the Red Bull and only 0.164 seconds off Button’s best. Up next, third quickest, was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton fourth fastest in the McLaren, suggesting that the Mercedes powered cars are intent on reversing the trouncing they received in Bahrain from their Renault powered rivals. Nico Rosberg was third fastest Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were fifth and sixth respectively, with the top six covered by half a second – it’s very, very close at the top. An hour into proceedings Mark Webber got it all wrong on the exit of Turn 4, flying across the gravel before rejoining the track in his Red Bull RB8. The Australian ended the session seventh on the timing sheets and half a second down on his team mate. Michael Schumacher ended the session eighth after an inconspicuous session for the six times Spanish Grand Prix winner. Kamui Kobayashi was fastest of the Ferrari powered posse, ending the session ninth after setting hearts fluttering with an off in the Turn 14 and Turn 15 kink late on in the session. No harm done. Hamilton and Bruno Senna also had close calls around the same time, at the exact same place, as drivers pushed the limit in the final moments of practice. Felipe Massa was faster than his teammate Rounding out the top ten was Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg who was also the last driver within a second of the fastest time set by Button. Out of the top ten were the Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa (11th) and Fernando Alonso (14th) which perhaps indicates that the Italian squad have not found any extra pace compared to their rivals or they are playing one hell of a good game of bluff. Ferrari fans will be hoping the latter, but realistically things still remain bleak for the reds. Watch this space. Special mention has to be made about Narain Karthikeyan’s wretched day, after being forced to sit out the morning practice as Dani Close did duty for HRT. His car was plagued by an electrical problem that lost him an hour of track time. And when the 112 eventually did get out on track it was only until Turn 3… Free Practice 2 – Barcelona, 11 May 2012 Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.399 38 2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.563 0.164 38 3 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.771 0.372 41 4 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.909 0.510 32 5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:23.918 0.519 32 6 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.964 0.565 37 7 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:24.065 0.666 34 8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.080 0.681 36 9 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.214 0.815 41 10 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:24.365 0.966 22 11 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:24.418 1.019 35 12 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.422 1.023 32 13 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:24.468 1.069 40 14 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:24.600 1.201 33 15 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:24.688 1.289 30 16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:24.733 1.334 34 17 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:24.769 1.370 37 18 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:25.047 1.648 42 19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:26.296 2.897 36 20 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:26.740 3.341 35 21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.314 3.915 22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.664 4.265 23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:28.235 4.836 24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth Related NewsTech Talk: What gave Mercedes the edge in Spain?Vettel: I feel like I have a car in my hands againMassa unconcerned about latest criticismBarcelona negotiating F1 deal through to 2026Hamilton: Our goal is to win all the timeRaikkonen: Exactly who made the decision for Alonso to pit first?Massa says Williams are now third in pecking orderAlonso: Maybe Mercedes is out of reachMcLaren: Our journey to full competitiveness won’t be a short oneSpanish Grand Prix: Renault report from Barcelona McHare Why sad that Ferrari appear to be slower than the front runners. I feel sad that Williams are not up there. They can’t all be winners so stick to reporting the action and not showing favouritisms. Editor @McHare point taken mclaaaaaaaaarenbaaaabeeeeeh i hope mclaren wins! but vettel seems to be consistent Mildseven We must wait for FP3 to see the real pecking order. Seems like Ferrai has moved in to mid-field than where they usually belong. McHare About ready for a team to win twice this year or is it time for a Lotus win? Come on McLaren let it be YOU. Concentrate at those pit stops boys!