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Spanish Grand Prix: Button quickest in practice

May 11, 2012 20:24 IST

McLaren's Jenson Button set the pace in Spanish Grand Prix practice on Friday with half the field separated by little more than a second.

With the frontrunners all trying out new developments on a hot and sunny day, the 2009 World Champion lapped the Circuit de Catalunya with a best time of one minute 23.399 seconds set on the soft Pirelli tyres.

The top 10 cars were all within a second and 12th-placed Mexican Sergio Perez, in a Sauber, lapped only 1.023 off Button's best.

Jenson ButtonRed Bull's double World Champion and overall leader Sebastian Vettel was second in both sessions.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who gave his home fans what they wanted to see with the top time of 1:24.430 in the morning, was 14th after lunch. Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa was 11th.

Alonso is looking for big improvements in his car after tests in Italy last week ahead of the first European race of the Formula One season.

Ferrari have struggled to keep up with champions Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes despite Alonso's win against the odds in a rain-hit Malaysian race in March and the Spaniard is now fifth overall.

So open is the championship, with four different winners in four races, that the Ferrari driver is still only 10 points behind Vettel, however.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, winner in China in April, was third fastest in the afternoon with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton fourth. Lotus team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were fifth and sixth.

Indian Narain Karthikeyan failed to set a lap time in the HRT after stopping on track in the afternoon while Australian Mark Webber went through the gravel in his Red Bull and was seventh fastest.

Webber has been on pole at the last two Spanish Grands Prix, winning in 2010.

French reserve Jules Bianchi took Paul Di Resta's Force India for the morning while American Alexander Rossi made his Caterham debut and Spaniard Dani Clos replaced Karthikeyan.

Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

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