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Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Saturday, 25 June 2011 14:27 UK

European Grand Prix qualifying as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1425: Our girl on the scene Sarah Holt has filed her report so I recommend you check it out. A samplet for you: "The world champion set a new record lap time around Valencia's street circuit for the second time on Saturday as he beat team-mate Mark Webber." That's it from me today, so all that remains is for me to ask you to join us again tomorrow from around 1130 BST ahead of race time at 1300 BST. You never know... Sebastian Vettel might have an off-day. Neutrals can but hope, I suppose. Adios amigos!

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel: "It was a very good day for us. It's good to have the front row for our team. It's a tricky circuit with 25 corners so to get a perfect lap in was tough, but it's good result."

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who qualified third: "I wasn't expecting to be so high up after practice. The guys did a great job to analyse the data. The first lap wasn't too bad, tried to improve on the next lap but I had to bail out."

McLaren's Jenson Button on his sixth place: "It's not very good. The car felt pretty good in Q2 but then in Q3, I had massive oversteer. I don't know why but I just couldn't get any rear grip. The car was great this morning in practice but with the heat maybe our balance isn't working because of the track temperature. I just didn't expect it. It's not great but we'll still have a good race.

1415: Hopes of a changing of the guard, then, even with all the technical set-up changes, prove unfounded. Is there anything anyone can do to stop the the juggernaut that is Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel? On the evidence so far... only rain, right?

Ferrari on Twitter: "In terms of gap, it is more or less what we expected, maybe we're hoping for a slightly better position."

Five Live pundit Anthony Davidson: "Sebastian Vettel seen having a good look where Ferrari's DRS (over-taking aid) switch is in Fernando Alonso's car at the end there. Literally looking every avenue of performance."

f1lover75 on Twitter: "All Red Bull front row. Yet again we are going to see the finger..."

uksceptic on Twitter: "Well that was a bit of an anticlimax, everyone just gave up."

1407: Looks like the track just wasn't quickening up as expected at the end, there, and Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button all abandoned their last efforts at a flying lap. It's a Red Bull front row again, though, with Sebastian Vettel leading from Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton third, Fernando Alonso fourth, and Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld and Adrian Sutil following behind.


1404: Mark Webber can only go second... Fernando Alonso pits with fourth the best he can do... Lewis Hamilton is also coming in...

1403: Here come the hot laps with the clock hitting 0:00... but seven cars can still post laps but Sebastian Vettel will post the last flying lap...

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "This track is getting faster and faster all the time. Sebastian Vettel obviously does not yet think he's done enough for pole..."

1402: The front-runners are all coming out again, Sebastian Vettel on a new set of softs.

1400: Nico Rosberg is the next to set a time with the top six all in the pits, but the Mercedes man can only stick in a 1:38.231 to go seventh fastest. Michael Schumacher had said that the fourth row was a realistic target for Mercedes this weekend and that looks like being borne out here.

1358: But he is immediately usurped by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull with a 1:36.975. Lightning from the German. Vettel is currently followed by Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Button and Massa. No other lap-times set just yet.

1358: Lewis Hamilton goes top with a 1:37.380...

1357: And Fernando Alonso posts a time of 1:37.454. "That will not be good enough for pole," says Martin Brundle. To be fair, though, the Spaniard is on used tyres.

1356: The Ferraris, out on used soft tyres apparently, look like being the first to set lap times...

Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who will start 18th in tomorrow's race, on speculation surrounding his future: "I've got nothing to say. I think Red Bull has done enough for me since I was 15 years old and helped me into Formula 1 when I was 19. I don't think about my future. At the moment I see myself here with this team and this family [Red Bull]."

1354: And here we go, Q3 up and running.

1353: Your drivers for the top-10 shoot-out, then, are: Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Sutil.

1350: Force India's Adrian Sutil edged into the top 10 by all of 0.034 seconds by the way. Tighter than EJ's jeans in other words.

BenCooper86 on Twitter: "McLaren appear quicker than I expected, good news."

1347: And Vitaly Petrov does indeed drop out in P11 as Adrian Sutil squeezes into the top 10 - bit of a shock that for the Renault driver after looking good in Friday practice. The Russian is joined by Di Resta, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Maldonado, Perez and Buemi.

1346: There's your chequered flag.

1346: Michael Schumacher improves to fifth... but it's Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta in the Force Indias looking to push out of the bottom seven... Vitaly Petrov in the Renault is bang in trouble by the look of things...

1345: Less than a minute to go in Q2 and the top six cars aren't bothering to re-emerge.

1343: Kamui Kobayashi gets his head above water - just - with a lap of 1:40.067 to squeeze up to P15. He will probably need more than that, though.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "Mark Webber has had four fastest laps in Grand Prix this season. He's been fast, got the pace, but it's just not worked out for him in the race as he's not led a single lap. His team-mate Sebastian Vettel hasn't set a fastest lap this year - but he's won five races."

1341: No-one outside the bottom seven is out on track yet, with five of the last seven - with the exception of Di Resta and Maldonado, obviously - putting laps in now.

1340: Your bottom seven as it stands, by the way, is Buemi, Petrov, Kobayashi, Perez, Maldonado, Barrichello and Di Resta.

1338: Right, Pastor Maldonado's Williams has been craned off the track, and the clock starts ticking again on Q2 with 7:59 minutes left.

Ferrari on Twitter: "The Red Flag is a shame, because Felipe [Massa] was doing a very good lap even on the 3rd timed lap on an used set of Options..."

1336: Immediately before that red flag, by the way, Fernando Alonso had just set the fastest first sector time in his Ferrari. Hhmm... *strokes chin thoughtfully*

1335: Yep, as a result they've RED FLAGGED qualifying.

1334: Now, this could a be a problem, Pastor Maldonado has stalled on Turn 20 right in the middle of the track. Looks like engine failure.

1333: Alonso's lead at the top of the timings lasts mere seconds as Sebastian Vettel tears more than half a second off his time with a 1:37.305 in his Red Bull, swiftly followed by Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both in the 1:37.7s.

1332: Fernando Alonso goes top of the charts with all the drivers out on the option tyres, the Ferrari man posting a 1:37.930, ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber on a 1:38.058.

1330: Felipe Massa, who topped Q1 with a fastest lap of 1:38.413 - a full half a second faster than anyone - is out again on the softs nice and early.

1327: Right then, no rest for wicked, Q2 starts - 15 minutes this time to lose seven drivers.

Team Lotus Jarno Trulli on speculation that he could be leaving Formula 1: "To be honest, I've never said that. I don't even know how Le Mans works. It's speculation."

BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan on Mark Webber leaving it late to get into Q2: "That's what happens when you put yourself in that position where all those other cars that are guaranteed slower than you are. I think it was a mistake and it's not good enough."

1324: A small aside on Lotus, by the way, as that result sees Heikki Kovalainen out-qualify team-mate Jarno Trulli for the seventh time this season.

1322: Your bottom seven drivers and those failing qualify through to Q2, then, are Karthikeyan, D'Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Glock, Trulli, Kovalainen and Alguersuari. Bit of a close shave, though, for Mark Webber it has to be said as the Red Bull driver scrapes into Q2 by just two places. Still, he'll go again next session for sure.

1320: That's the chequered flag and it looks like the big guns have all survived. A flying lap from Jarno Trulli is ruined at the last corner at the end by a spin on the dust. Sloppy.

1319: Mark Webber hits a 1:39.956 in his Red Bull - and that's only good enought for P15 at present. He will have another lap, though...

1318: Mark Webber is 17th and borderline to miss out on Q2 right now... he better hope traffic doesn't put paid to his qualifying... big, big danger for the Australian right now...

1318: This will be a frantic final couple of minutes. Drivers out on the softs and bringing the times down all the time.

1317: Your bottom seven as it stands: Maldonado, Karthikeyan, D'Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Glock, Truli and Kobayashi.

1315: The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, somewhat surprisingly, are also out on the options. That gives them just two sets of tyres left in qualifying. Using up a set of the optimum tyres in Q1 suggests they're feeling the pressure, I'd say.

1314: Six minutes left in Q1 and the likes of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi - on the softs - are finally going to put a lap time in.

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "Apparently, if Sebastian Vettel wins a race, he stores those race overalls away and uses a new set for the next race. He'll be needing a big wardrobe to keep them all in."

1312: McLaren also still losing time in the third sector as a result of those high-speed corners - but Lewis Hamilton goes top of the timings anyway with a lap of 1:39.244.

1310: Sebastian Vettel is top again with a 1:39.356. We have yet to see Maldonado, Perez, Buemi or Alguersuari in this session. Brave.

1308: McLaren driver Jenson Button is still struggling on those tyres, as pointed out by Sarah Holt below, but he is still quick enough to post the fastest time of the session so far with a 1:39.605. No-one tearing up the track just yet, though. Option tyres are the faster tyres here by a stretch.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Kamui Kobayashi stuck his Sauber in the wall at end of practice this morning so he was quite late getting ready for qualifying - but he's out there now."

1307: Sebastian Vettel tops the timings people, the Red Bull driver posting a lap of 1:39.965 nice and early.

BBC F1 co-commentator David Coulthard: "The drivers probably have around 10kg of fuel on board for one qualifying run which will be enough to do an out-lap, flying lap and in-lap."

1306: What looks like being a standard-setting lap by Fernando Alonso is brought to a halt by the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen on the final corner and the Ferrari man is forced to ease off and set himself up for another run next lap.

1304: Nick Heidfeld gets the first time on the board, a 1:41.897.

1303: And they are soon joined by the likes of Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov... and Ferrari pairing Fernando Alonso (on the medium tyres) and Felipe Massa.

1301: Renault's Nick Heidfeld and Paul di Resta of Force India are the first out on the track.

1300: Go go go... Q1 gets under way, 20 minutes to lose seven drivers...

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle: "If Vettel didn't turn up at Valencia or Silverstone, he'd still be leading the championship. That's how big his championship lead is."

1257: Just time, then, to watch David Coulthard's British motorsport day, (see 1232) right?

1255: Five minutes to go until Q1 peeps.

Bushells on Twitter: "Hamilton is a national treasure and a top bloke - F1 would be worse without him!"

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton on his driving style: "I've stood back and had a look at things. I like the way I drive so I'm going to continue that way. If I wasn't able to drive the way I do, I just wouldn't enjoy it. Of course, you can always make better judgements and better calls, so that's something to think about. Of the 100-odd manoeuvres I've done over the last couple of years, you're bound to have some that don't come off so well, but when they do they're pretty good. We've had a bit of a bad run, hopefully we'll have a better run from now on."

1249: Talking of Lewis Hamilton, the man's taken a bit of flak lately hasn't he? Accusations of petulance, dangerous driving, frustration on the track... well here's what he thinks...

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "I popped my head into McLaren's motorhome to find out if there was anything wrong after both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were a second off Sebastian Vettel's pace for Red Bull in final practice. The team say both drivers are still struggling to get the tyres working properly even with the sun really beating down on the asphalt in Valencia. F1 tyre supplier Pirelli have introduced the medium compound for the first time along with the soft tyres for this stop-start street race. The word is that Button is much happier with the balance of the car while Hamilton was less comfortable this morning."

f1givesyouwings on Twitter: "Re last anon: They all use the "quali-mode" engine map. And Sebastian Vettel would be precisely as good, just not with the same results."

1243: And now on our TV coverage we've got Lewis Hamilton pulling doughnuts in a Nascar at Watkins Glen, New York. It's like Melbourne all over again...

Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn on Michael Schumacher's future: "I think it [his performance in Montreal where he finished fourth] reminds him of how much fun Formula 1 can be. It's frustrating to be midfield when you've had such a great career. He's used to fighting at front and he had a taste of that in Canada. If we can convince him that we'll be up there consistently, he will stay on [for the final year of his three-year contract in 2012]."

1240: Bit of a revelation on BBC One as pundit Eddie Jordan gets right to the heart of the matter with Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, revealing that Michael Schumacher's contract is not firm for next year but depends on an option. "Whose side is the option on, Ross?" EJ asks. "Michael's," Brawn replies. "So he can stay if he wants?" "Yes."

MissRammie on Twitter: "14 hours sleep, full English brunch with fresh coffee, now chillaxing on sofa with the qualifying. C'mon Jenson Button, let's have a P1!"

Anon via text: "I think the new regulations are good! About time we saw if Red Bull really can keep up with Ferrari & McLaren, all things equal. If you put Vettel in to a Hispania would he be so good? I don't think so."

Five Live pundit Anthony Davidson: "Doing the rounds in the paddock it seems Red Bull still have an advantage. Other teams not so confident re:qualifying performance."

1232: If you're not watching our TV coverage right now, you're missing David Coulthard speed around traffic cones in the equivalent of a souped-up Noddy car. Seriously.

PeazyPea on Twitter: "I was at Valencia two years ago and can assure you that's where the real fans sit - it was a great atmosphere."

1227: So it turns out - publicly at least - Fernando Alonso has already given up on the Championship, focusing instead on the race for second. The Ferrari man said: "It's true that the first guy [Sebastian Vettel] is completely out of reach for the others. He has a big advantage. On average, we're one second behind Red Bull in qualifying and they're dominant in this championship - probably the most dominant in years." Mind games?

WagMarshallPage on Twitter: "Button's last race still giving me goose bumps!"

BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan on the thrilling last lap in Montreal: "What I liked about the incident with Vettel last time out is that when he made that mistake, we saw a tiny glimmer of hope that this guy is human - though he had to be pushed into it. Full marks to Jenson who did a great job to win."

1220: Compare those overtakes to Jenson Button's 14 - FOURTEEN - in the last five laps during the last race in Montreal, overtakes that of course saw him snatch a brilliant and dramatic last-gasp win over Sebastian Vettel in the Canadian Grand Prix. A win and a race that is still the talk of the town in the paddocks this weekend, I tell you.

1217: TV shots of Mark Webber's unbelievable flip-and-crash at this Grand Prix last season on BBC One right now, as Jake, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan debate the merits - and indeed possibilities - of overtaking in Valencia this weekend. Webber, staggeringly, walked away unharmed from that crash, but the incident did highlight the difficulty of passing on this circuit - only one overtake took place during last season's race. That is something I think we all hope goes differently this time around.

rrengland3 on Twitter: "Vettel to collide with Webber and start 24th and 23rd respectively. That would make an interesting race."

seanbhoy87 on Twitter: "Vettel on pole with Alonso alongside him, Hamilton and Button to struggle."

1210: We are live and up and running on BBC One, folks, and Jake Humphrey - replete in jeans and tucked in shirt uniform - awaits your attention. Get involved.

1209: Oh... oh yes... air guitars ready? Here comes The Chain...

Boltonlad21 via text: "Lewis all the way today, no question."

1205: So here's my Post-Practice School Report for the main front-runners. This is not - I repeat, not - anything like official. Just my own personal musings, if you like. Red Bull: top of the class. Ferrari: encouraging improvement. McLaren: work to do. Mercedes: good application, better results needed. What do we think?

The_Meddler on Twitter: "Is it raining? No? Vettel on pole then!"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "The F1 paddock is wondering whether a new ruling by the FIA which stops teams altering their engine maps - which is how the engines govern fuel usage - between qualifying and the race will affect the outcome of qualifying. There have been estimates that 2011 pacesetters Red Bull could lose between a third and half second in lap time. FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting called it 'impossible to quantify' but did say 'some extreme maps may give you half a second per lap'. Team Red Bull have been unified in their insistence that the new ruling will not rein in their speed - and Sebastian Vettel set a new lap record on Valencia's street circuit in final practice to underline that. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso also gave a definitive answer to his view on the ruling, saying: 'It means nothing.' The overall feeling is that the pecking order will not change."

1159: All is not lost though folks! Ish. For anyone looking forward to a more competitive qualifying session this afternoon, I recommend you cast your eye over Sarah Holt's latest missive...

Paul_Wi11iams on Twitter: "Valencia looking good for F1 qualifying today. My mate Kani is there. Lucky, lucky man!!! He's got a view out over the beach!"

1155: But it's not my opinion that counts - it's yours. And with our TV coverage still 15 minutes away, I can think of few better chances for you to lend your involvement in this here commentary than right now. So drop me a line via text on 81111 or through Twitter using hashtag #bbcf1 or @sampatricklyon. This is your time to shine.

1153: Me? Do I believe in miracles? Erm... not today. I reckon this is Sebastian Vettel's pole again all day long.

1150: So far this season, the forthcoming session has been little more than a repeated coronation of the King of Qualifying; Sebastian Vettel. Six out of seven poles already this campaign... and in topping third and final practice by the equivalent of a country mile again barely an hour ago, the German once again served notice of his intent and ability to again lead the pack come race time tomorrow afternoon. Anyone out there believe in miracles?

1145: The countdown is on, folks. T-minus 75 minutes until qualifying for the European Grand Prix. Where's ya money?

1110: Right then, I'm off a snack before qualifying, take the chance to have a read of Sarah's practice report. And after that join me again in about half an hour for all the action won't you? Jubbly.

autosportlive on Twitter: "Everyone completed a healthy number of laps with no major problems - perfect for the lead-up to qualifying this afternoon."

SmallandHairy on Twitter: "Ferrari look quick this weekend! Pleeeeeeeeeease let Felipe and Fernando get on the podium."

1105: Here are you top runners and riders at the end of third and final qualifying, then: ominously, Sebastian Vettel tops the charts with a 1:37.258, 0.420 ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and 0.582 ahead of Felipe Massa. Behind the front three come Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher. And if that means anything, and we're not sure yet if it does, it looks like Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes - in that order - are your front-runners again going into qualifying. That, to remind you, gets under way at 1300 BST.

1101: There is still time in the final sector for Kamui Kovayashi to completely lose his rear end going into the last corner and the Japanese driver can only slide sideways into the barrier, damaging his front right wheel as well as the front wing. Oops.

1100: The chequered flag falls to signal the end of the session...

BBC Five Live sport extra's Anthony Davidson: "It's McLaren who have the biggest improvement to make by the look of things - and I'm talking even in Qualifying One and Q2. They have to get through those."

1057: And then... bosh... Sebastian Vettel goes top of the timings once again with a flying lap of 1:37.258, more than 0.4 seconds faster than Fernando Alonso's best lap. The German looked to have been held up a touch by traffic on that run too. Is pole his for the taking once again?

BBC Five Live sport extra's Anthony Davidson: "We don't know how much fuel they've got in the McLarens, but they're either so confident in their pace that they're holding back here or there is something not quite right."

1054: Button's team-mate Lewis Hamilton is out now, though the Briton is hardly tearing up any trees pace-wise so far. A bit of a hold-up behind Michael Schumacher does not help him so Hamilton will go again next lap.

1053: McLaren's Jenson Button is round in 1:38.326 this time - 0.6 seconds off pace-setter Fernando Alonso, all of which appears to have been lost in the final sector.

booksonshelves on Twitter: "Looking good for Alonso this weekend in practice, just hope he can keep this pace in qualifying."

1049: Jenson Button is coming out of the McLaren garages on the option tyre, but still Lewis Hamilton sits and waits. Track temperature, by the way, is 38 degrees celsius. Hot.

1047: And as if to underline my point Fernando Alonso rips up a lap of 1:37.678 to go top of the charts and the Ferrari man is currently a second faster than Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull man has yet to post a lap on the options, though...

1045: It's a bit scruffy, but Ferrari's Felipe Massa goes fastest in the session with a lap of 1:38.277, pushing Mercedes's Nico Rosberg into second in the timings 0.303 back. Ferrari looking good.

1044: Quite a few cars struggling under braking still out there, as Five Live sport extra's Anthony Davidson points out that 80% of this track is spent under heaving braking. Could be key to success this weekend...

1042: A quick word on those further down the pack - Force India's Paul di Resta is currently 18th fastest with a 1:42.008, Vitaly Petrov - so fast at times yesterday - is 15th with a 1: 41.585, while Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button are now 13th, 10th and sixth respectively. Good stuff from the returning Sergio Perez, meanwhile, the Mexican seventh fastest in his Sauber.

1039: Sebastian Vettel is told he needs more from sector one by his Red Bull team - and the German responds with the fastest first sector time of the day so far. Impressive.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Felipe Massa has kept with the new double element front wing, but Fernando Alonso has gone with the triple element. That's a split on strategy in the Ferrari garage which is interesting because usually, the team would go with the one that's fastest."

stujwright on Twitter: "Valencia, my fave F1 GP by far. Hope Webber has better luck this year."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Argentine racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio, who died in 1995, would have been 100 years old this weekend and Mercedes paid tribute with a short film of his classic races and a birthday barbeque. Fangio won two titles with the Silver Arrows when he was in his forties and now Michael Schumacher, the man who surpassed Fangio's record of five championships, is trying to do the same for Mercedes at the age of 42. The significance was not lost on Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug, who told Schumacher: "Fangio would be proud of you. You are still good, still quick and still fighting. It's probably more than a coincidence."

1037: With the timings continuing to drop in Valencia, a little off-beat word from Sarah Holt is due I reckon...

1035: Not quite so comfortable for Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, though, who is heard complaining over the team radio of oversteer. "The pressures are good, the pressures are good," is the team message... probably prompting the Australian to wonder why the oversteer is occuring at all then, I'd wager.

1033: And then Sebastian Vettel pings along and sets a time of 1:38.999 to go half a second faster than anyone so far. Neutrals's hopes of a Red Bull wobble start to wane...

1032: Impressive lap there from Jenson Button in his McLaren - posting a 1:39.529 to sit just 0.023 off current timings-topper Fernando Alonso, and that without using his DRS (over-taking aid).

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "McLaren have brought an updated rear wing here which allows them to run more wing angle while still achieving high top speeds. They're able to do that because they've brought a revised DRS (over-taking aid) here. They'll be able to get more rear downforce to protect their rear tyres which suggests they're thinking about the race. That's a bit of a risk, though, because it might give away qualifying positions."

warpedab on Twitter: "How interesting would the race be if the front row of the grid is occupied by Alonso and Hamilton by the end of play today?"

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Whenever the Renaults come out, they do a clutch bite point test. McLaren have complained to the team that they're drivers are doing this right outside their garage because it's blowing dust all over their tyres. Renault said okay but it doesn't look like they're going to do anything about it."

1028: Boomtown. Fernando Alonso picks up where he left off yesterday by sending his Ferrari round the Valencia track in a chart-topping time of 1:39.743, closely followed by team-mate Felipe Massa just 0.265 seconds back. Lewis Hamilton has a best run of 1:40.908 at present, with only Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber yet to post a lap time.

1025: So there you go. Clear as... mud.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner on the Hamilton-Red Bull speculation: "Lewis is a great driver. He's a McLaren driver so it's not even something we're thinking about. We're happy with the two drivers we've got. I think [a partnership between Hamilton and Vettel] would be interesting. They're two of the best guys in the world but sometimes, as a team, you've got to look beyond what looks most attractive on paper. It's all about harmony and about the team at the end of the day."

1023: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, no stranger to being in the spotlight or the subject of newspaper headlines, has yet to set a full lap time just yet - giving him a little time, I would imagine, to check out Sarah Holt's overnight blog on why he badly needs a positive result this weekend after four collisions in his last two races. Not that that has stopped him being linked with a move to Red Bull of course. I wonder what RB boss Christian Horner makes of all that. Well...

1020: Nick Heidfeld is the new man atop the charts in his Renault with a lap of 1:41.903 - but it doesn't look too easy out there for the drivers at the moment. The on-board camera on Michael Schumacher's Mercedes shows the German fighting to keep the balance of his car right and it looks like the heat in Valencia is playing a role today.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "I'm down at McLaren where they've committed to using the new front wing with extravagant endplates, so it's obviously done the job that the windtunnel said it would. The McLaren drivers [Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton] said it was no fun driving without the qualifying engine maps in practice yesterday. I think we're seeing that all teams are accepting the draconian change that is to come in Silverstone with the introduction of the ban on off-throttle blowing of diffusers."

1016: ...he is, and it's a 1:45.364 from the Italian.

1014: Back up and running in earnest on track in Valencia and Jarno Trulli looks like he'll be the first man to set a time in his Lotus...

wilcoxnufc on Twitter: "Even if Alonso doesn't get pole today I still fancy him to win. He's been a brilliant starter."

Raymond from Leighton buzzard via text: "I predict a fastest qualifying lap 1.36.875 by Lewis Hamilton."
Hhmm... sorry, but I'm going to need you to be a bit more specific.

Red Bull F1 Spy on Twitter: "Bloke in the harbour mucking about on a jet ski, doing donuts. You could have stuck that on the grid and raced it in Canada…"

1008: And just like that, all is quiet again in Valencia with the cars back in the garages once more. The calm before the storm.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Both cars are back in the garage. Everything ok, nothing special to report."

1005: All the cars out and about on track in Valencia now going through their installations laps, though Vitaly Petrov, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are the only ones to have completed times for all three sectors thus far.

BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham on the Pirellis: "I spoke to [Pirelli motorsport director] Paul Hembrey yesterday and he thought there'd be a time difference of between one and two seconds when comparing the soft and medium compound tyres. He anticipated a two-stop strategy but that will vary between teams. He also mentioned that Pirelli wanted to get experience on the medium compound before Silverstone."

autosportlive on Twitter: "Paul di Resta moves towards his Force India VJM04. A very important day for the Scot, after he completed just three flying laps yesterday."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "There's another smell down here today. It's the smell of fear, fear of the unknown and how this much hotter weather is going to affect everybody. It's going to be a very hot one. The teams don't understand how the tyres are going to work in these conditions. Yesterday was fine, and I think it's right to say that Red Bull are faster in terms of race pace, but who is faster in qualifying? The only other smell down here is suntan lotion."

1000: FP3 gets under way with Jaime Alguersuari, understandably after sitting out all of second practice yesterday, the first out in his Toro Rosso, swiftly followed by Lotus's Jarno Trulli. The likes of Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel sit tight in the garages for now.

0958: Coverage update - we are up and running up above for UK users and also on the Red Button and Five Live sports extra, so all things considered you have no excuse not to put your feet up and suck up all the Formula 1 goodness on offer for the next hour or so. For a start, why not check out Lewis Hamilton's new McLaren overalls? Trust me, you'll feel a whole lot better about your own wardrobe with one glance at those bad boys.

0955: Let's remind ourselves of events from yesterday briefly, then. Well, for the third season running Fernando Alonso topped the charts of second practice in Valencia, with Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel trailing in the Spaniard's wake despite a loose last corner on the two-time championship winner's fastest lap. Encouraging signs for a competitive qualifying? Hhmm. Also up there yesterday afternoon were Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Mark Webber - and hope prevails that this Grand Prix could prove something of a turning point in the season. Maybe.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "A balmy night in Valencia was broken by a sudden explosion of fireworks on Friday. After recovering from the shock of the unexpected whizzes and booms, we were dazzled by the display - and then a bit disappointed as a couple of lone rockets fizzled out to bring it to a close. Whether there will be any unexpected fireworks - or damp squibs - in qualifying for the European Grand Prix is debatable. There were hopes after Friday practice that the gap between the top five teams had closed just a little. But the fastest man among them, Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, reckons he will need a "big miracle" to end Red Bull's clean sweep of poles and Red Bull's Mark Webber warned not to read too much into the times. Sebastian Vettel, who has taken six poles in seven races this year, and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton say they are expecting a tight battle."

0948: In situ in Valencia, of course, we have miss Sarah Holt, so let's hear from our girl on the scene...

Force India on Twitter: "It's another beautiful morning in Valencia as we get set for FP3. Adrian is just having a late breakfast... and it's almost time to fire up the cars."

Lotus on Twitter: "Qualifying day in Valencia and it is already mad hot. Like, melt your feet hot."

0945: And secondly, a reminder of how you can get involved in this here commentary today with all your thoughts, musings, predictions and ponderings: drop me a line via text on 81111 or through Twitter using hashtag #bbcf1 or @sampatricklyon. It really is that easy.

0943: First up, a little schedule for you all:
FP3 (Third and final practice) 1000-1100 BST.
Qualifying 1300 BST.

0941: Today, we might just find out how badly defeat last time out in Montreal has affected Championship leader Sebastian Vettel. The smart money, of course, is on the German landing his Red Bull on pole today once again - six poles in the first seven races of the year tell us that - but with the consensus being that Friday practice hinted at a more even pace among the leading pack, could we be about to witness a changing of the guard in this 2011 season? Let's find out, shall we? Welcome to the European Grand Prix in Valencia.

0938: "I made one mistake and straight after I was so disappointed and angry because the win was so close."
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on that last-lap mistake in Canada.

0935: "The last race in Canada will have hurt him mentally. Not me being faster than him, but him making the mistake. Hopefully that will play on his mind and give us a chance this race. It makes me smile because it shows what can happen if we put them under pressure."
McLaren's Jenson Button on Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.

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Live Leaderboard


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
European Grand Prix practice results
08 Mar 11 |  Results
Vettel heads Alonso in practice
25 Jun 11 |  Formula 1
Alonso heads Hamilton in practice
24 Jun 11 |  Formula 1
European GP practice as it happened
24 Jun 11 |  Formula 1
European GP practice photos
24 Jun 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton not feeling the pressure
23 Jun 11 |  Formula 1
Perez all clear for race return
24 Jun 11 |  Formula 1

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