Sebastian Vettel is looking to improve upon his exemplary qualifying record at the Valencia street circuit. AP Photo
Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel set the second fastest and fastest time in the two 90 minute practice sessions at the European Grand Prix at the Valencia street circuit on Friday.
The German was second fastest in his Red Bull during the opening practice session, just 0.083 seconds behind Williams F1's Pastor Maldonado, who set a time of 1:40.890. Vettel went one better in the afternoon session by topping the timesheets with a lap of 1:39.334.
The high track temperatures at the harbour-side street circuit is expected to suit Red Bull racing during qualifying. Although, given the performances of the Lotus F1 team in those conditions during a race, it could very well be possible that an eighth different driver stands on the top step of the podium come raceday on Sunday.
Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso rounded off the top five drivers during the first practice session while Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna were the remaining drivers in the top five in the second practice session.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was eighth and 14th in the two practice sessions while the third of the top championship contenders, Fernando Alonso, was fifth and seventh.
Solid running for Karthikeyan
Narain Karthikeyan had one of his more consistent and trouble-free Fridays with the HRT F1 team. Karthikeyan was 23rd fastest out of the 24 drivers in both sessions and even managed to outpace teammate Pedro de la Rosa by 0.059 seconds in the second practice session. He was just 0.124 seconds slower than de la Rosa in the opening session.
Karthikeyan even managed to get a lot more mileage over the two sessions, completing a total of 56 laps over the course of both sessions while de la Rosa racked up just 27 laps.