Jenson on the button in battle to catch Raikkonen

Befitting a track new to the calendar, Valencia threw up some unusual scenarios on the first day of practice.

The German rookie Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the morning for the underdog Toro Rosso team. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, in Renault and Honda respectively, fought Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in the afternoon. It was a balance between letting the track come to you as the grip level rose, and having your engineers make major changes to the set-up of the car. Some did this better than others, some simply went through their usual Friday routines of gathering data relevant to the race. The one thing you could be certain of was that it would all be different on the morrow.

Button made big strides with the set-up of his car and set the third-fastest time of the day, 1 min 39.546sec, on Bridgestone's super-soft rubber. His time was only 0.069sec slower than Kimi Raikkonen's best.

"It was good finally to get out on the new circuit after previously experiencing the lap on the simulator and having a closer look during our track walk yesterday," Button said. "We were struggling with very low grip this morning and I'm sure that was the same for everyone.

"The track is very dusty and if you go off line, your tyres are quickly covered in dirt, which makes it difficult to be consistent. We made a lot of changes to the car this afternoon which provided a great deal of useful information. It was nice to do a quick lap at the end. Hopefully, we can further improve the car overnight."

It is a long time since he has been in a position to sound so optimistic. By contrast, his fellow countryman Lewis Hamilton had a relatively quiet day, third fastest in the morning and fifth, on 1:39.712, in the afternoon.

"We were able to go quicker on each run without changing too much and we took a very good baseline into the afternoon session," he said. "Our adjustments were again spot-on but sheer volume of traffic meant it was difficult to confirm our final set-up changes."

Ferrari also look strong again here, with Massa setting the second-fastest time of 1:40.654 to Vettel in the morning, and Raikkonen the day's fastest lap of 1:39.477 in the afternoon.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas