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The McLaren of Jenson Button came up trumps in the final practice session in Valencia with a scorching 1.38.562 lap. The Briton was pursued by the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen as they finished in 2nd and 3rd place on the timesheets. The Force Indias impressed once again as Nico Hulkenberg and Paul Di Resta were the 4th and 5th fastest drivers respectively.
The final practice session in Valencia began under perfect racing conditions, as drivers were instantly out to do an installation lap on the medium tyres. Valencia, with its varying temperatures is expected to throw a number of variables into the mix this weekend. The cooler than expected conditions on Friday were supplanted this morning by glorious temperatures expected in the Spanish city at this time of the year. Pirelli's soft â€“compound tyres degraded quicker than expected on Friday much to the disbelief of the entire paddock.
Romain Grosjean was the first to break the silence on track as he topped the timesheets with a quick 1.40.136 lap. The Lotus team did not show their true hand yesterday and started showing signs of unleashing the pace they had in reserve. The E20 is extremely nimble and is a joy to drive under hot conditions as the team demonstrated in Bahrain and Barcelona. The Iceman Kimi Raikkonen was not to be left behind as he followed up with a quick lap of 1.39.796 second lap to jump ahead of his teammate.
Current championship leader Lewis Hamilton was out on track and immediately went fastest of all with a 1.39.793 lap. Pastor Maldonado seemed to be back in the reckoning in his Williams as he charged his way to the top of the leader board with a quick 1.39.762 lap. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel upped the ante and went quickest with a stunning lap three-tenths quicker than Maldonado's previous best.
Grosjean meanwhile took the soft tyres for the first time this session and put the pedal to the metal, demoting Vettel to 2nd place with an ultra quick lap of 1.38.665 seconds. The speedy Frenchman has impressed the Formula one community this season, and has shown a steely resolve to finish on the podium in races where his teammate the vastly experienced Finn Raikkonen has failed to do so.
Australian Mark Webber had a dismal session as he was only able to complete 4 laps, with his mechanics tinkering with the front end of his RB8. With less than 10 minutes remaining, a whole host of drivers emerged out on track fitted with the soft tyres. The Red Bull duo of Vettel and Webber were the only drivers to stay in their garages with the session about to end.
Jenson Button topped the timesheets in the dying moments of the session with a blisteringly quick lap of 1.38.562 seconds. The Briton seemed to have found more confidence with his car's handling after opting to use teammate Hamilton's car set-up on Friday. Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari could only manage 12th place, as the Italian marque aims to contend for victory this weekend after a rapid improvement in pace.
The Lotus duo provided a glimpse of what is to come as Grosjean was 2nd fastest, with teammate Raikkonen in 3rd place. The top 14 cars were separated by less than a second promising an exciting Qualifying session later today.
1) Jenson Button 1.38.562
2) Romain Grosjean 1.38.655
3) Kimi Raikkonen 1.38.759
4) Nico Hulkenberg 1.38.819
5) Paul Di Resta 1,38.892
- 24/06/2012 18:00 - Force India enjoys rich haul of points in Valencia as Hulkenberg finishes 5th and Di Resta 7th
- 24/06/2012 17:59 - Heart breaking European GP for Grosjean, Iceman Raikkonen takes commendable 2nd place
- 23/06/2012 18:10 - Vettel romps home to Pole position in Valencia, Four different constructors in top 4