Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was cautious following practice on Friday for the European Grand Prix at Valencia in Spain, despite topping the times and ending proceedings as the quickest man.

Alonso, who was only ninth in the opening session this morning, was at the head of the times throughout free practice two and in the end he finished it 0.056 seconds up on Sebastian Vettel, his best lap a 1 minute 39.283 seconds.

It bodes well for the Spaniard, who finished third in Canada two weeks ago, and who will be gunning for his second win of the F1 2010 season on Sunday in front of his home fans.

Despite being right on the pace though, and despite benefiting from a number updates for the ninth round on the schedule, he is not getting carried away and is only too aware that Friday practice isn't always the most reliable indicator.

"Here, as in Montreal, our car seems to work well, even if it's difficult to make a direct comparison, given that the track surface is very different and that one needs a bit more aerodynamic downforce," Alonso noted. "We worked on the development of new technical solutions today, but it is hard to say how much we have improved compared to the others.

"The F10 has turned out to be easy to drive and competitive in every situation, both with low and high fuel loads, but it is too early to say where we are: this morning, the McLarens were very quick, the Red Bulls are always on front running pace and even Mercedes and Renault are very close. However, our only aim is to be ahead of everyone, otherwise we wouldn't be Ferrari."

Felipe Massa meanwhile was fifth in FP1 and seventh in FP2 in the other Ferrari F10, his best lap of the day a 1m 39.947s. The Brazilian missed around a third of the second session after a spin, when the anti-stall failed, but he was still pretty optimistic.

"The track was very dirty, which makes it difficult to understand exactly how much the new parts which we used for the first time today have improved the performance of the car. I never managed to get a clean lap when I was on new tyres with low fuel and this explains my position on the time sheet," Massa said.

"Nevertheless, I am pleased with the handling of my car. I think we have made a step forward in performance terms and that we should be competitive this weekend: I hope I can fight for a place on the top rows. The spin? I hit a kerb, spun and then I chose to brake to avoid hitting the wall: unfortunately the engine cut out and we now have to look into why the anti-stall did not work."

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali summed-up: "I would say that our weekend has got off to a positive start, but it's too early to draw any real conclusion. From what we saw today, we are on the pace on a track that has some similarities to the one in Montreal.

"Now we have to analyse all the data gathered over these three hours, to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. As usual, a good grid position will be vital, especially so here on a track where overtaking is very difficult."