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Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Friday, 24 June 2011 12:37 UK

European Grand Prix practice as it happened


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By Sam Lyon

1445: Every reason, then, for you to join me tomorrow from around 0930 BST for final practice and then qualifying. Absolute bonanza. In the meantime, kill a few more minutes of your Friday afternoon in the office with a read of Sarah Holt's Friday practice report - and I'll see you on the 'morrow, so I will. Adios.

Anon via text: "Hopefully Lewis can silence his critics this weekend. He has made F1 exciting to watch. It's as if the critics want to go back to the no-overtaking days!"

1440: So Alonso tops second practice in Valencia for the third year in a row - and hope builds that Ferrari and McLaren might just be hot on the heels of Red Bull again this weekend. A Red Bull-free front row on Sunday would make things rather interesting wouldn't it? Alonso full of pace, Lewis Hamilton pushing hard, Jenson Button possibly having an impact... I'd keep your eyes on F1 this weekend for sure.

Ferrari on Twitter: "A reasonable start to the weekend. Let's see if we can build on this day."

1435: Ferrari's Fernando Alonso tops the FP2 timings, then, with a lap of 1:37.968, 0.227 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton's McLaren and 0.297 faster than Red Bull's Championship leader Sebastian Vettel. Some might argue the three best drivers in the sport occupying the three top positions... Anyway, behind them, it's Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Mark Webber - all within half a second of Alonso - followed by Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov. Encouraged?

1430: There's your chequered flag to draw a close to second practice at the European Grand Prix.

1427: Jaime Alguersuari will be the only man not get out in this second practice, then. At the front end of the timings, McLaren appear to be lapping competitively compared to the Red Bulls on their long runs. But, as always, we do not yet know about fuel loads etc.

1424: Paul di Resta gets a time on the board, and it's a 1:141.192 - good enough for 16th as it stands for the Force India man.

Pirelli on Twitter: "Bearing in mind track evolution, the soft tyre seems to be about a second per lap quicker than the medium."

1419: Oh, hold on... here comes Paul di Resta in his Force India now. Make the most of these 11 minutes my boy...

1418: All but a handful of cars out on their long run evaluations on the option tyres by the look of things now. Time fast running out for Paul di Resta and Jaime Alguersuari to get out of the garages and onto the track.

1415: Is that the end of our top lap times this session? If so, Alonso will emerge top of the timings 0.2 seconds ahead of Hamilton and then come Vettel, Schumacher, Massa, Button, Webber, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Petrov. We have 15 minutes of FP2 left for that to change.

chrisrevolver on Twitter: "Looks like Red Bull might not have the front row on Sunday if free practice is anything to go by..."

Lotus on Twitter: "Greens all round for Jarno [Trulli], he's into the mid 1:42s and up to 18th."

Anon via text: "Great to see Lewis putting in a competitive time. Fully support the rule changes for this race - parc fermé conditions should definitely cover engine mapping. If it affects the car and it's aerodynamics then it shouldn't be modified between qualifying and race day."

1409: Anyone else thinking Red Bull might not have it all their own way again this weekend, then? Drop me a line via text on 81111, through Twitter using hashtag #bbcf1 or @sampatricklyon. Aces.

1407: And now, despite a mistake going into the final corner that leads to a spot of wheel-locking, Fernando Alonso posts the fastest time of the day with a 1:37.968. The Spaniard leads from Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and, now, Michael Schumacher who has just put lapped in 1:38.315.

And some more from BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "On the tyres, there was some concern that we wouldn't be able to differentiate between the prime which is white and the option which is golden but looking at the screens, it's not too difficult is it?"

BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham has an update on Paul di Resta's car: "The floor is back on the car but it's going to be another 15 minutes at best until he can get back behind the wheel."

1401: Double hello. Now Ferrari's Fernando Alonso sticks in a 1:38.184. Hopefully this augurs well for a close race between Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari folks...

1400: Hello. Lewis Hamilton goes top of the pops with a 1:38.195 in his McLaren. Jenson Button, meanwhile, misses his apex on the final corner and it costs him ashe can only go sixth fastest.

1357: A familiar story once more at the top of the charts as Sebastian Vettel posts a 1:38.265 to squeeze Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber into second.

1356: One man yet to set a time on the options is Michael Schumacher, and the Mercedes man finds himself down in 18th in the timings at present.

1352: The front-runners at the top of the timings are all on the options now, with Nico Rosberg posting a 1:39.012 in his Mercedes soon followed by a 1:38.531 from Red Bull's Mark Webber. The Australian getting a real feel for this track today.

iamdanthomas on Twitter: "Re CJBoothroyd: I've done a quick thesis, and yes, it is definitely the most boring, uninspiring bit of track ever."

BBC F1 commentator Anthony Davidson on the switch to 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines in 2014: "I loved the turbo era in the 1980s. For me, that was the best era for Formula 1. They could turn up the wick when they wanted but they still had to save fuel. So you'd see them turn it up to pass a car, and then turn it back down to save fuel, thus putting themselves back under attack. It's a natural way of overtaking and strategy so I'm all for turbo."

1349: Boom. And now Nick Heidfeld gets his Renault around in a chart-topping 1:39.040 - his first lap on the options. The tyres are soft and medium this weekend, FYI.

1347: Still, despite circuiting on pretty old tyres now, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are churning out the lap times just two 10ths of a second outside the pacy Red Bulls. Impressive. The two Ferraris sit just behind Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber now, which is surely encouraging for the Italian team. Conversely, the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are yet to hit their straps back in ninth and 10th on the timings.

1342: And now Fernando Alonso is not happy for very different reasons as a flying lap from the Spaniard is ruined on the final corner by a snail-like approach to the pit lane by Narain Karthikeyan in his Hispania. There was a hand gesture, too, and it wasn't a royal wave.

1339: Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button is not too happy, by the way, the Briton complaining of oversteer due to a lack of rear grip. Work for McLaren.

1337: Turns out, by the way, that Lewis Hamilton was held up by traffic there, explaining his lap time at 1333: He had set his best times in the first two sectors before that.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Talking of Lewis Hamilton - have McLaren already found the next Lewis? The F1 team have signed up 13-year-od karter Nathan Aston to their young driver development programme. Aston is from Cumbria and has only been karting for three years but has already won his first British title. McLaren's programme helped Hamilton rise from karting to become the 2008 world champion. McLaren also have Dutch karter Nick de Vries on their books and team boss Martin Whitmarsh says: 'We are looking for drivers with the right approach, attitude and potential, and we will seek to assist their careers in a range of different ways.' So watch this space."

1333: And he puts in a 1:41.349. Not up to his previous speed just yet, the Briton.

1330: Back out of the pits comes Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Fernando [Alonso] is back in the garage. Now it is time for some set up changes for both cars."

1328: And continued frustration, too, for Paul di Resta, with the Scot currently pacing around the Force India garage unable to get into his car as the mechanics work on it following Niko Hulkenberg's collision this morning. Reports are that it will be at least another 20 minutes or so before he can get out and about on track.

1326: And some more on Jaime Alguesuari's issues for you, with a Toro Rosso spokesman telling us: "We have upgrades here, including a new floor and front and rear wings, but Alguersuari has a mechanical problem. The team aren't sure what is wrong yet but they've changed the gearbox for starters."

Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari tells BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "I had a mechanical issue so I can't really run in this session. The morning session was good, though, and seeing the data on the new parts of the car was encouraging ahead of the race. It's an important race for me because it's my second home race. I like the track, the weather is good and the car is a bit better. I think we can finish in the points on Sunday."

1323: Lap times coming down all the time now, with the top three of Red Bull pair Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso all in the 1:39s. Felipe Massa is fourth with a 1:40.695 and Lewis Hamilton fifth in 1:41.148. Only two men yet to post a time in this season, Paul di Resta and Jaime Alguersuari.

Lotus on Twitter: "Everything seems fine with Heikki [Kovalainen]'s car and he reports better traction on that last run. Few changes now and he'll be back out."

Renault on Twitter: "Both cars back in, fast-paced pit activity, tyre temps, front anti-roll bar changes, work on the rear of Vitaly's car."

1318: Red Bull are back on top, with Sebastian Vettel the first man this weekend to hit the 1:39s with a 1:39.790 to lead by half a second from team-mate Mark Webber.

BBC Sport's Andrew Benson: "Renault have finally confirmed the appointment as team manager of John Wickham, who fulfilled the same role for the unsuccessful Arrows team in the early 1990s, following the resignation of long-serving sporting director Steve Nielsen, as predicted by this website at the Canadian Grand Prix. The appointment of Wickham, who has been out of F1 since leaving Arrows in 1995, is part of a wider management reshuffle, which sees chief engineer Alan Permane take a more senior role. Team boss Eric Boullier hopes it will be 'another step in maybe bringing some new ideas and to go for the next step where I want the team to be'."

1315: And now some off-track news...

Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber managing director on Kamui Kobayashi who has scored points in all but one race this season: "He's really grown into such a mature driver after one year. He's picked up his role as team leader very effectively. We're very happy with him and he fits into the team very well."

1314: And now - potentially ominously for anyone hoping for a form-change - Sebastian Vettel takes his Red Bull to the fastest time of the day so far with a 1:40.062.

1312: Fernando Alonso tops the timings with a run of 1:40.492. He is followed by Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel, who has just posted his fastest time of the day with a 1:40.946.

RedBullLordy on Twitter: "I do agree CJBoothroyd (below). If any new tracks come about such as Argentina, please replace this track!"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Force India anticipate no problems for Paul di Resta when he takes over at the helm of a hastily patched-up car after Nico Hulkenberg's crash this morning. The team say the car only suffered suspension damage and that the monocoque was unscathed. Force India have had to adapt their programme for second practice but will press on with evaluating some new parts that they are hoping to introduce at the next race in Silverstone. I also had a little chat with Hulkenberg, who was back at the motorhome in his chequered board shorts. The German described his accident as 'unfortunate' and 'costly' for the team in terms of time and while saying he did feel bad, he added that he wouldn't let it get him down.' So, on the whole Force India are looking on the bright side, I'd say."

1307: And there's evidence it is indeed nothing serious in Nick Heidfeld's Renault, the German the first man into the 1:41s in this session to go top of the charts.

1305: Sergio Perez is the first man to stick a time on the board in this session in his Sauber - a 1:44.432 - though he is quickly usurped at the top of the timings by Felipe Massa's 1:42.048 in his Ferrari. Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, complains to his team of vibrations in his Renault. Not too unusual early in the session, that.

Following Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg's crash this morning BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "Having spoken to Andy Stevenson (Force India team manager) it will be another 30 minutes until Paul di Resta's car will be ready."

1301: And here we go, FP2 is under way, with Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen the first two cars out on track.

1259: With FP2 about to start, I will warn you that Freeview is sticking with the tennis so here is the very best place for you to catch all the action from the street circuit in Valencia. Now you know.

cjboothroyd on Twitter: "Valencia's street circuit is the most boring circuit in the world. Discuss."

1257: Track temperature, by the way, is 41 degrees celsius with air temperature around 26. Still rather overcast, though, a touch disappointingly for those in situ. Not that they seem to be too concerned by the look of things... endless glasses of bubbly does tend to cheer the soul somewhat.

1255: The unmistakable sound of engines being revved can mean only one of two things... a Valencian boy racer is stuck at some traffic lights, or Free Practice Two is soon getting under way. Guesses on a postcard.

BBC Five Live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "Glasto's got mud... Valencia's got dust, and lots of it. Dust anyone? Dust?"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "If you were looking for some explanation as to why Sebastian Vettel was two-and-a-half seconds off the pace this morning, the word from Red Bull is that the world champ was trying out the car in Silverstone specification. That means his car was complying with the new rule which means teams can no longer rev the engine when drivers are off the throttle and by this process feed exhaust gases through the diffuser and increase downforce. In other news, Vettel was seen trying out as a matador with a pink cape in the upstairs of the Red Bull motorhome in Valencia. As part of a feature with Spanish TV, he was shown the ropes by a former matador and Vettel happily shouted 'ole' after every attempt."

1245: Talking of Red Bull...

1240: Oh hello there, folks. Free Practice One was a bit of a lively one wasn't it? Mark Webber outstripped his Red Bull team-mate and Championship leader Sebastian Vettel by the best part of two-and-a-half seconds, Vitaly Petrov hinted at renewed Renault pace, the Ferraris and McLarens got through some good runs, Karun Chundhok lost second gear, Niko Hulkenberg managed to send his Force India into the wall under zero pressure from anyone or anything and Paul di Resta caught up on some missed Wimbledon. What to expect from second practice, I wonder?

1235: Snap out of your Friday early-afternoon snoozes, people, Free Practice Two from Valencia is a mere 20 minutes away.

1045: And on that note, I'll bid you adieu for now. See you all in a couple of hours for Free Practice Two? Good.

Lotus's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Shame for Karun [Chandhok]. Lost second gear on first outing and we could not fit the spare as had not turned up from Red Bull, very disappointing."

1040: If you're wondering how on earth you're going to fill your morning between First and Second Practice, by the way - and who could blame you for such panic - you can always check out Nico Rosberg's Classic F1 race on the Red Button. Which is nice.

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz on Renault, with Vitaly Petrov second fastest in FP1: "They could be something to look out for this weekend. They don't tend to run low fuel in Friday practice sessions, so it looks like they've found a bit of pace this weekend."

1035: A look at our early pace-setters, then; Mark Webber tops the charts in his Red Bull with a 1:40.403, 0.824 ahead of second-fastest Renault's Vitaly Petrov with Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Nick Heidfeld, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button following behind. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher sit in ninth and 11th, respectively, with Sebastian Vettel 16th at the session's end.

1030: And that's the end of first practice.

1029: Timo Glock is a sitting duck out on track now after a spin between turns four and five and he has stalled, with his Virgin car stationary across the circuit. That will end any chance of more meaningful laps being posted in this session you would think.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Third and last run for Felipe [Massa] is going to start. The same for Fernando [Alonso], who just left the garage."

Simon, Welwyn via text: "Isn't it about time Vettel had his obligatory bump before setting the best time? He is leaving it late!"

1025: And, indeed, here comes Jenson Button in his McLaren.

1024: A quick lap-check for you all; Pastor Maldonado has posted the most circuits alongside Ricciardo and Karthikeyan with 24, with Jenson Button posting the fewest (10) outside of today's two retirees Niko Hulkenberg and Karun Chandhok. The Briton will be back out before the end of the session, though, we're told.

1020: Here comes Red Bull's Championship leader Sebastian Vettel back on track, apparently on Valencia spec now having tested the Silverstone spec earlier (as revealed by Ted Kravitz) but he is unable to shoot too far up the timings on his first run.

1017: The man with the quickest lap time of the day so far, Mark Webber, is back out on track in his Red Bull just as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton sets the fastest first sector time of the day... going on to post a 1:41.510 - fourth fastest. Still not using his DRS, Hamilton.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Sergio Perez looked pretty confident behind the wheel as he whizzed past us in his low-slung BMW on his way to the track and he will be hoping to find himself just as at ease behind the wheel of his Sauber during practice. The Mexican rookie sat out the last race in Canada after he felt dizzy during practice following the effects of a heavy crash in Monaco. Perez insisted he has not lost his confidence, despite missing the last two races, and that he can quickly get back up to speed. 'I'm very positive, motivated and it should be a good weekend for me,' Perez added. 'There are very big straights here and we are lacking some speeds on the straights but we're confident.'"

1011: Vitaly Petrov is second fastest now with a 1:41.227. Good run, this, from the Renault man. Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, improves slightly to sixth quickest as he continues to test the new aerodynamic parts on his McLaren.

Lotus on Twitter: "Heikki [Kovalainen]'s race engineer Juan calling for front and rear anti-roll bar changes ahead of the next run."

1009: And in amongst all that, Vitaly Petrov goes fourth fastest in his Renault.

1007: After a short stop in the garages, the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are back out and about, just as Lewis Hamilton starts a new flying lap. Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, is complaining to his Williams team of a "big vibration when I go fast". Not good.

James, Gloucester via text: "What do you guys think about this track? Glorified car-park or interesting new take on a street circuit? Personally I find it hard to follow where the cars actually are on the circuit!"

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz : "Interesting to see Sebastian Vettel in 16th because Christian Horner confirmed to us yesterday that Red Bull will be running the Silverstone spec engine map, which does not give the exhaust blowing when the driver is off the throttle, in one of the Friday practice sessions. That could account for why he's down the timesheets but that's not confirmed. I'll look into it."

1000: An hour into first practice at the European Grand Prix, then, and Red Bull's Mark Webber tops the charts ahead of Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton is seventh, followed by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, with Sebastian Vettel down in 16. Maybe the spell has been broken! Ahem.

Virgin on Twitter: "Reports coming that some teams have been picking up bits of glass on tyres so both engineers asking for a check before putting covers on."

Renault on Twitter: "Vitaly [Petrov]'s back in the car ready to join Nick [Heidfeld] out on track."

0952: Red Bull's Mark Webber is the first man in the 1:40s this weekend with a 1:40.597. Jenson Button, by the way, is fourth with a 1:41.926.

Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok on this session's technical problems: "I just went out of the pit lane and I had no second gear so I just cruised round. I'm not having much luck with this Friday driving. I think I've done two timed laps in three Friday sessions. Sadly, I think that's the end of the session for me. I should be back in the car at Silverstone, my adopted home grand prix."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz on the ban on engine mapping which comes in to force this weekend: "Engine mapping is like a super aggressive sport mode. You only press it for qualifying and then you don't use it for rest of the weekend because it uses too much fuel and puts too much stress on engine. The FIA initially allowed the teams to make changes to the mapping. But the teams were effectively making a qualifying car and a race car which took advantage of the parc ferme rules that say the car has to be same from beginning of qualifying to end of race, so the FIA banned it."

BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "Pirelli say the reason why they changed the tyre compounds from super softs and medium to soft and medium is to encourage strategizing. The more strategy that is required, the more similar the compounds."

0944: Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok receives alarming news from his team: "Do not use second gear," is the stern order. Doesn't sound good, does it? Alonso improves to a 1:41.239 while Massa sets a 1:41.758. Force India's Adrian Sutil is third after a 1:42.006.

0940: Ferrari's Felipe Massa is now top... but his time of 1:42.154 is soon beaten by team-mate Alonso, who posts a 1:41.683. Lewis Hamilton explains to his team that his rear wing is not working and they reply: "For aero testing this morning, we need to run without the DRS." Couldn't they have told him that in the garage?

0936: ... and he posts a 1:44.338. Which is good enough for fifth. Plenty happening on the timesheets at the minute - Michael Schumacher now tops the list with a 1:43.050. Then it's Toro Rosso's reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo, won't be for long, though.

0934: Eight drivers with times on the board now; Williams's Pastor Maldonado top of the timings with a 1:43.455, followed by Alguesuari, Hulkenberg, Schumacher, Ricciardo, Liuzzi, Glock and Rosberg. Fernando Alonso looks like he's putting in his first completed lap as I speak, though...

BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham on Force India's Paul di Resta: "When I spoke to him yesterday, he was fairly philosophical about the fact he wasn't going to go out in practice today. He does want to put Canada behind him, and one way of doing that is to get back out on track."

BBC F1 commentator Anthony Davidson on Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg's crash: "He just locks up and the rear snaps on him. He tries to correct it but he runs out of track. It shows that when you're not in the car very often it's difficult to get back up to speed. It's not easy as a Formula 1 car is very twitchy to drive."

Matt, at Glastonbury via text: "Currently sitting in a (surprisingly dry!) glastonbury cooking breakfast, one eye on the bacon, one eye on your updates! Hoping Schumi shows Canada wasn't a one off, and that the McLaren boys have a strong weekend!"

gpcampbell on Twitter: "Will Valencia give us an exciting race this year? All the elements are conspiring to make it interesting at least."

0928: A clean-up operation, executed to perfection, and the track is clear again. Looks like there is damage to the Force India's left rear wheel, tyre and front left suspension. Paul di Resta continues to look straight ahead...

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "That's Paul di Resta's car by the way, but to his credit he didn't flinch when he saw the Hulk crash from his view from the pit wall."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Paul di Resta, as most of you will now have noticed, is sitting out first practice to make way for Force India reserve Hulkenberg - and even before that bang the Scot reckoned it would be 'difficult to watch' as he is eager to get out on the portside track to measure the grip level, find out where the bumps are and how much he can run over the kerbs. Still, on the plus side, Di Resta will be able to catch up on Wimbledon, which he says he has been following keenly. 'It's an event I enjoy, even though the shorter games still involve sitting around for four hours,' mused Di Resta. The Scot says he has never met countryman and number four seed Andy Murray but adds: 'It'd be good to see him go on and do well, but Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are producing the goods. It's a tough sport.'"

0924: A timely note is due from Sarah Holt I reckon...

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Ferrari have gone with a double element front wing today - they normally have a triple element - and neither driver in the car as they wait for the track to clean up."

0921: Oh! Wall! Coming down the run down to Turn 12, Niko Hulkenberg locks up his rear, loses the front end, and smashes into the circuit wall with his rear left wheel coming loose. Oops. Does that count as the fabled 'commentator's curse'?

0919: Controversial choice of biscuit by McLaren that if you ask me. Surely you've got to have something with chocolate in for it truly compliment your morning cuppa, no? Anyway, Force India's Niko Hulkenberg now tops the charts with a best lap of 1:44.929, with Michael Schumacher second with a 1:54.397.

McLaren on Twitter: "'What is the biscuit of choice in the McLaren garage?' We're a British team, so you can't beat a Digestive!"

Ant, B'ham via text: "I went to a red bull talk about F1 and what surprised me the most was that they measure the difference between gear shifts to calculate others fuel load. Phenomenal."

ianthomson472 on Twitter: "Still think season will be exciting just on a race by race basis for positions 2 to 24!"

0914: And now we have our first time on the board as Nico Rosberg posts a lap of 2:06.412 in his Mercedes. I dare say that will improve.

autosportlive on Twitter: "The circuit is surrounded by a thin haze of dust as the cars displace it after months of continued building work in the port."

BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "There's a smell down here in these garages. It's the smell of hope that maybe this championship isn't quite over yet. You know what's given them hope? Sebastian Vettel's mistake on the last lap in Canada. Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso saw that he can make mistakes. He is fallible, and it's a weakness they aim to exploit in the coming months."

0907: All the drivers have been out and about already in Valencia for an early look at the circuit, with only Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo yet to set a sector time.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Valencia: "Hola, a todos. After a trip to north America, Formula 1 has returned to its European heartland for the second race of the season on Spanish soil. Valencia greeted us with the gleaming, white architecture of its stunning City of Arts and Sciences, pans of steaming paella and, well, up until Friday morning, hospitable sunshine. The harbourside street circuit welcomes the drivers with a challenging 25 corners - more than any other track on the calendar - long straights, top speeds of 192mph and close walls to weave through. The grip level here also changes massively over the weekend and first practice will be about cleaning up the circuit before the main protagonists get a feel for how fast they can really go."

Anon via text: "Let's cast our minds back to Jenson's superb start in 2009. The damage had already been done...Vettel could theoretically win the Championship and not win another race this season..."

0900: The 90 minutes that is first practice of the European Grand Prix gets under way - and first man out on the track, somewhat eyebrow-raisingly, is Sebastian Vettel. Interesting.

0858: Before we get under way, then, let me take the chance to remind you that I am after all your top level chat - as always - today. So drop me a line via text on 81111, through Twitter using hashtag #bbcf1 or @sampatricklyon - whatever takes your fancy.

0855: Well, this weekend might just give us a few clues. Today, we return to European shores, the glorious sun-bashed harbour of Valencia's street circuit, armed with hope that someone - anyone - might prevent this season's Formula 1 title being a one-man procession. Welcome, one and all, to the European Grand Prix.

0850: Yep, after five wins out of the season's first six races, Sebastian Vettel found himself in the unfamiliar position of not standing atop the podium last time out thanks to Jenson Button's dramatic last-lap dash. Now, admittedly, Vettel - as he did in China in his only other defeat this season when Lewis Hamilton won - did finish second. And, yes, his Championship lead is still 60 points. And, yes, the Red Bulls can still boast to be the complete and utter kings of qualifying. But maybe - just maybe - we have a challenge on for this season's F1 title. Right?

0845: So what do we reckon everyone; has the Red Bull/Sebastian Vettel spell finally been broken?

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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
Webber leads Valencia practice
24 Jun 11 |  Formula One
European GP practice photos
24 Jun 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton not feeling the pressure
23 Jun 11 |  Formula One
Perez 'happy' after race return
24 Jun 11 |  Formula One

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