/ Motorsport

Jenson Button sets pace in Valencia

Updated: Saturday, 23 Jun 2012 12:03

Jenson Button has posted the fastest time in final practice in Valencia
Jenson Button has posted the fastest time in final practice in Valencia

Jenson Button finally showed a return to form by setting the fastest time in final practice for tomorrow's European Grand Prix.

Button has been plagued by set-up issues of late, confirming this week he took a wrong turn with his McLaren following problems incurred during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

That particular race was where Button's season started to unravel, with the 32-year-old collecting a measly two points from the last four races to trail championship-leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 43 points.

But in also confirming he has opted to follow the baseline set-up of Hamilton this weekend in the hope of then finding his way back into the title picture, there now appears to be some vindication.

Although practice times are never reliable, Button will at least have garnered some hope for qualifying later after starting from 10th, 12th and 10th respectively in the last three races.

The Briton produced the best lap of the weekend to date late in the hour-long session around the Valencia Street Circuit with a time of one minute 38.562 seconds.

However, there was a fly in the ointment when Sebastian Vettel, winner from pole of the last two races, showed his hand at the death and with no other car on track.

After running wide at one stage on what appeared to be his final hot lap, Vettel just managed to cross the line before the clock hit zero.

The reigning double world champion then posted the fastest times in the first two sectors before aborting the lap and returning to the pits.

That aside, behind Button, there remains the prospect of an eighth different winner this season as the six drivers that followed him on the timesheet have all yet to stand on the top step of the podium.

The Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen proved they could have the cars for this 25-corner circuit, as many expected building up to the event, finishing 0.093secs and 0.197secs down on Button.

Then came the quick-for-this-weekend Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, followed by Sauber's Sergio Perez and seven-times champion Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes, the German 0.579secs adrift.

Hamilton finished 0.616secs off of his team-mate, with the 27- year-old followed by Ferrari's Felipe Massa, with Williams' Pastor Maldonado completing the top 10.

Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari - the Spaniard two points adrift of Hamilton in the standings - were 11th and 12th ahead of Vettel.

Williams' Bruno Senna emerged the last driver to finish within a second of Button to again underline the compact nature of the F1 field this season.

Red Bull's Mark Webber suffered a technical issue that restricted the Australian to four laps and 19th on the timesheet, finishing an irrelevant 2.720secs behind Button.