Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel put his Red Bull at the top of the time sheets after second practice in Valencia – but with the top 20 cars being separated by less than 2 seconds, it’s still anybody’s game.

The Austrian team has brought a range of new parts – including new sidepods and rear-wing endplates – and Vettel nearly led the way in the morning practice too, edged out by Pastor Maldonado by only 0.083s.

Vettel kept cool in the heat - Photo: Red Bull Racing

The Williams driver bucked the trend of recent races by putting in some solid lap times, but fell to 13th by the end of the day’s play. Team-mate Bruno Senna, under much pressure himself, only ran in the afternoon, but was an encouraging 5th.

Force India was another team to show their hand – Nico Hulkenberg took 2nd, Paul Di Resta 6th, respectively – as the temperatures rose. Caterham’s updates worked a treat – both Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov were in a fight with the Toro Rossos all day.

Jenson Button, with the spotlight firmly on the Brit after scoring only 2 points since China, had a topsy-turvy day in his McLaren. Adopting Lewis Hamilton’s set-up, the 2009 champ placed 4th in the morning, but dropped to 12th in the afternoon.

European Grand Prix – Free Practice 1

1. Pastor Maldonado, Williams-Renault – 1m40.890s
2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault  + 0.083
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault  + 0.094
4. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes  + 0.104
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari  + 0.175
6. Paul di Resta, Force India-Mercedes  + 0.215
7. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes  + 0.227
8. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes  + 0.268
9. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes  + 0.292
10. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus-Renault  + 0.730
11. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault  + 0.894
12. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari  + 0.948
13. Sergio Perez, Sauber-Ferrari  + 0.971
14. Felipe Massa, Ferrari  + 1.219
15. Jules Bianchi, Force India-Mercedes + 1.285
16. Valtteri Bottas, Williams-Renault  + 1.409
17. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham-Renault  + 1.552
18. Jean-Eric Vergne,Toro Rosso-Ferrari  + 1.868
19. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso-Ferrari  + 1.887
20. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham-Renault  + 2.319
21. Charles Pic, Marussia-Cosworth  + 3.283
22. Pedro de la Rosa, HRT-Cosworth  + 4.106
23. Narain Karthikeyan, HRT-Cosworth + 4.230
24. Timo Glock, Marussia-Cosworth  + 4.448

European Grand Prix – Free Practice 2

1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault 1m39.334
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes + 0.131
3. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari  + 0.261
4. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes  + 0.267
5. Bruno Senna, Williams-Renault  + 0.310
6. Paul di Resta, Force India-Mercedes  + 0.366
7. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari  + 0.399
8. Romain Grosjean, Lotus-Renault  + 0.534
9. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault  + 0.567
10. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes  + 0.592
11. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus-Renault  + 0.611
12. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes  + 0.656
13. Pastor Maldonado, Williams-Renault  + 0.741
14. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes  + 0.813
15. Felipe Massa, Ferrari  + 0.910
16. Sergio Perez, Sauber-Ferrari  + 1.177
17. Vitaly Petrov, Caterham-Renault  + 1.629
18. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso-Ferrari  + 1.787
19. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham-Renault  + 1.863
20. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Ferrari  + 1.929
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth  + 3.090
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth  + 3.624
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth  + 4.867
24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth  + 4.926

Photo: Red Bull Racing

Let us know what YOU think...