Hulkenberg scrapes into top spot in free practice German narrowly tops Petrov in Valencia Nico Hulkenberg claimed the top spot, just, from Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado in a scintillating free practice session this morning in...
Hulkenberg scrapes into top spot in free practice
German narrowly tops Petrov in Valencia
Nico Hulkenberg claimed the top spot, just, from Vitaly Petrov and Pastor Maldonado in a scintillating free practice session this morning in Valencia which ended with the top three split by just one tenth.
With the top time swapping hands throughout the session it was the German who claimed the position with a lap time of 1:46.871, stealing it back from Petrov by just 0.009 at the end of the a session which saw the pace on track matching the scorching conditions.
Karun Chandhok and Maldonado set the early running, but Hulkenberg was soon equal to the challenge, setting the best lap so far ten minutes in despite stepping hard on the brakes at the final corner to avoid some drivers slowing for a visit to the pits. One minute later Petrov surpassed his championship rival, and the battle was on.
In a session that saw few driver errors - Edoardo Mortara spun twice but stayed off the walls, while a few others went too deep at the wide turn 13 but was able to cut across the run off to rejoin the track - all eyes were on the top three as they stretched away from their competitors and claimed, then reclaimed, the top position for the remainder of the session.
But with Hulkenberg setting a lap half a second faster than Giorgio Pantano's equivalent lap last year with just two minutes remaining, and a combined desire to stay off the walls ahead of this afternoon's qualifying session, the battle was over for the time being, although the top three will be looking at the men behind them - Chandhok, Lucas di Grassi, Luca Filippi and Alvaro Parente - as much as at each other when the fight recommences a few hours hence.