VALENCIA (Reuters) - Ferrari's Fernando Alonso raised the hopes of his home fans with the fastest lap in free practice for the European Grand Prix on Friday. The Spaniard, chasing his first win of a tough season dominated by Formula One champions Red Bull, lapped the Valencia street circuit with a best time of one minute 37.968 seconds. His former McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest on a track where he has finished runner-up for the past three years. Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel was third on the timing screens after a muted morning session in which he was only 16th. The 23-year-old German won in Valencia last year from pole and has triumphed in five of the seven races so far this season with Red Bull starting all on pole. His Australian team mate Mark Webber was the man setting the pace before lunch at a track where last year he made headlines with a spectacular airborne crash in the race. Webber, seventh in the afternoon, had been top on an overcast and humid morning with a time of 1:40.403 seconds -- 0.824 ahead of Russian Vitaly Petrov in the Renault and Alonso. Webber was lucky to walk away unscathed from last year's crash, when his car rose almost vertically into the air after ramming into the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus before crashing upside down and rolling. "It was a nasty one, we know that," he had said on Thursday. "The next race weekend, I did okay so I think I have done a bit of racing since then." Hamilton had been fourth in the first session with team mate Jenson Button -- second overall but 60 points behind Vettel - in seventh place. Button moved up to sixth in the afternoon. Force India's reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg hit the wall after 22 minutes of the first practice and the accident reduced the amount of time available to Paul di Resta in the afternoon as mechanics hurriedly repaired the car. The Scot finally went out on track with 11 minutes remaining of the day and did seven laps with the 14th best time, only a fraction slower than German team mate Adrian Sutil. There was also disappointment for Indian Karun Chandhok, making a Friday appearance for Team Lotus in his reserve role. Chandhok failed to set a time after the gearbox failed to engage second gear as he was leaving the pitlane. "I just went out of the pit lane and I had no second gear so I just cruised round. I'm not having much luck with this Friday driving," he told the BBC. "I think I've done two timed laps in three Friday sessions. Sadly, I think that's the end of the session for me. I should be back in the car at Silverstone, my adopted home grand prix." Mexican rookie Sergio Perez, who missed the last two races after his heavy crash in Monaco qualifying, took part in both sessions with no apparent trouble. Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari was sidelined for the second session by a mechanical problem.