Sebastian Vettel heads into the weekend on the front foot in his bid for a third successive European Grand Prix victory.

Reigning double world champion Vettel led the way after Friday's two 90-minute practice sessions around the Valencia Street Circuit where the top 15 cars were separated by under a second. Red Bull star Vettel posted a best time of one minute 39.334secs ahead of five drivers all yet to win a race this season.

With a Formula One record extended in Canada a fortnight ago with Lewis Hamilton making it seven different drivers to win the first seven races, there is scope for an eighth on Sunday.

Chasing Vettel in second on the timesheet was Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India, the team seemingly confident they have found the key to understanding this year's Pirelli tyres in Canada.

That was where Paul di Resta plummeted from fifth up until his first pit stop to outside the points and woefully off the pace come the chequered flag.

Hulkenberg, who sat out first practice to give reserve Jules Bianchi a run in the car, finished 0.131secs behind Vettel, with Di Resta 0.366secs down in sixth.

In between the duo were Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, overshadowed by team-mate Sergio Perez's two podium finishes this season, Michael Schumacher with a miserable two points for Mercedes so far, with Williams' Bruno Senna fifth, a third of a second down.

Behind Di Resta was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, two points adrift of Hamilton in the standings and one ahead of Vettel such is the tight nature of the championship race.

The Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, also yet to stand on top of the podium, were eighth and 11th, around half a second adrift, with Red Bull's Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes splitting the pair.

As for the McLarens, Jenson Button was down in 12th, with Hamilton 14th, the first time since Australia the former has been quicker than the latter in both sessions on a Friday. Separating the duo was Williams' Pastor Maldonado, fastest in FP1, albeit with no driver using the quicker soft-compound tyre until the afternoon run.