Kimi quickest in Valencia

World Champion tops timesheets in second practice session

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen set the pace during Friday's free practice sessions for Sunday's European Grand Prix at Valencia's new street circuit.

The defending World Champion waited until the closing seconds of the afternoon session to set a best lap of one minute and 39.477 seconds around the 3.380-mile track and pip local hero Fernando Alonso.

Briton Jenson Button, only 17th in the morning session, leapt to third for Honda ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, with all the fastest times being clocked in the final eight minutes.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest ahead of McLaren Mercedes team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and Toyota's Timo Glock.

Glock's late surge meant that only seven drivers broke through the 1:40 barrier on the new track built around the Spanish city's harbourfront.

Double world champion Alonso had looked to have timed his run to perfection but the Renault driver was outdone by Raikkonen in dramatic fashion.

The Spaniard, who was ninth fastest on Friday morning, was impressively quick in the afternoon, although both his and Button's times suggested that their cars were light on fuel.

But Sebastian Vettel, who was fastest for Toro Rosso in the first session, was unable to provide a repeat performance in the afternoon, the young German only managing 16th quickest.

By the start of the 90 minute-long session, the air temperature had risen to 31 degrees Celsius with the track temperature 13 degrees higher.

Hamilton, who holds a five-point lead over Raikkonen in the Drivers' Championship, was swiftly out on track and quickly set a pace better than that he had managed in the morning.

But he and Kovalainen were soon overhauled by the Ferraris.

Raikkonen and then Massa swept to the top of the timesheets, with BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica and Williams driver Nico Rosberg both doing the same prior to Alonso.
Pushing harder

Nearly all of the drivers pushed harder than they had in taking to the track for the very first time in the morning.

But, although most were forced to make full use of the circuit as they worked hard for faster times, none ended up in the barriers.

Raikkonen, who said on Thursday that he would concentrate harder on his qualifying performance in order to boost his Championship challenge, made good on his promise with a series of quick laps to top Alonso.

The top 10 was completed by Kubica and Renault's Nelson Piquet, with Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella also pushing himself into the frame.

David Coulthard was down in 13th in his Red Bull, 1.219secs adrift at the end of a day in which, despite the drivers having to learn the layout, there were no major incidents.

European Grand Prix, Friday practice, session two:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min 39.477secs
2. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault 1:39.497
3. Jenson Button (Britain) Honda 1:39.546
4. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1:39.678
5. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1:39.712
6. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren 1:39.954
7. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota 1:39.967
8. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber 1:40.149
9. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault 1:40.439
10. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India - Ferrari 1:40.500
11. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1:40.585
12. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams - Toyota 1:40.607
13. David Coulthard (Britain) RedBull - Renault 1:40.696
14. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams - Toyota 1:40.742
15. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota 1:40.877
16. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:40.982
17. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India - Ferrari 1:40.999
18. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber 1:41.084
19. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso - Ferrari 1:41.246
20. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Honda 1:41.377