Brawn's Rubens Barrichello set the pace this morning in the opening practice for Sunday's European Grand Prix at Valencia.
Barrichello topped the times with around 15 minutes of the session still to run, posting a 1 minute 42.460 second lap. The Brazilian had problems late on however, when his car got stuck in gear and he was unable to select neutral.
Heikki Kovalainen meanwhile was 'best of the rest', less than two tenths slower and fractionally up on his McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Kovalainen was trying out a new front wing on his MP4-24 and like practically all the teams and drivers was testing various updates. The Finn posted his best effort in the final third of the session, but spun off at the entry of the pits straight away after.
Championship leader Jenson Button came in fourth, six hundredths off P1 on a 1m 43.074s, while Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel completed the top six. Vettel, like Kovalainen, spun during the session, but as track conditions were very dusty and slippery a lot of the drivers' complained of a lack of rear end grip.
Adrian Sutil was next up after a promising run for Force India, with the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima seventh followed by Mark Webber and local hero, Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top ten, 0.924 seconds off the top time.
Further down the order, Sebastien Buemi ended the session in P11, around three tenths up on his Toro Rosso team-mate, Jaime Alguersuari, who was 13th.
Robert Kubica was sandwiched between the two Red Bull 'B' team men, with Williams' Nico Rosberg 14th and Nick Heidfeld 15th in the other BMW Sauber F1.09.
Of the rest Giancarlo Fisichella came in 16th, followed by new boy Romain Grosjean, who has replaced Nelson Piquet Jr and then the two Toyotas and Luca Badoer. The Italian, who is of course standing in for the injured Felipe Massa, was 3.380 seconds off the top time and over 2 seconds off Raikkonen in the sister Ferrari.
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