Buddh Practice 2: Vettel and Red Bull too good on day one
26 October, 2012
Oct.26 (Reuters) Sebastian Vettel picked up where he left off on Friday by lapping fastest in both free practice sessions on the opening day of the Indian Grand Prix weekend, showing the kind of form and pace which could bring the Formula One Drivers’ Championship leader a fourth win in a row.
Red Bull’s 25-year-old German leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by six points with four races remaining. Winner of last year’s inaugural race at the hot and hazy Buddh International Circuit south of New Delhi, Vettel set a best time of one minute 27.619 seconds in the morning and then led the afternoon time sheets with a lap of 1:26.221.
The latter time was comfortably inside his race lap record of 1:27.249.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was second fastest, 0.310 slower before lunch, with Vettel’s Australian team mate Mark Webber second in the afternoon 90 minute session. Making it an ominous Red Bull one two. Alonso, who had earlier bemoaned the lack of developmental updates for the F2012, was third in both sessions.
The top three in first practice were in the same order as last year’s podium finishers at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, which Vettel dominated after having already clinched his second championship at the time.
This time he has had to fight harder for a third crown although, with a run of three successive wins under his belt, he has a momentum that risks turning into another Red Bull runaway in the final races.
Nico Rosberg ended day one fastest of the Mercedes powered brigade with the fourth best time, which was a full second up on teammate Michael Schumacher down in 13th.
Kimi Raikkonen, third in the championship with Lotus, improved from 10th to fifth fastest on his first day on the track. He was not on the grid for last year’s race and today drove the circuit for the first time. Teammate Romain Grosjean, another Buddh rookie, was ninth.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who was fourth in the morning ended the day sixth fastest but, in what could be a good omen for the race, was told by his team that he was “the fastest guy on high fuel” load.
Next up was Button, who was seventh on the timing sheets and also the last of the drivers within one second of Vettel’s top time.
Nico Hulkenberg was another driver not having raced at Buddh circuit, and after a fact finding first session in the morning got down to business in the afternoon stanza to record the eighth best time, over half a second up on Force India teammate Paul Di Resta.
Alonso’s Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa had two spins in the afternoon, nudging an advertising board while trying to extricate himself from the runoff but otherwise with few consequences. He complained of a “strange balance” in the car and was 15th fastest at the end of the day.Bruno Senna sat out the morning session, making way for Williams reserve Valterri Bottas, he ended the day tenth fastest and almost a second up on a somewhat subdued Pastor Maldonado who ended the session 17th.
Mexican Esteban Gutierrez replaced compatriot Sergio Perez at Sauber for the first session, after the regular race driver was reported to be unwell. Gutierrez was 20th; Perez returned for the afternoon.
Gutierrez is widely expected to replace Perez next season, with the older Mexican moving to McLaren to take over from Hamilton when he goes to Mercedes.
With the little-used track dusty at the outset, teams took their time to progress beyond installation laps in the morning and then focused on gathering data and testing updates before tyre work in the afternoon.
Ferrari, whose wind tunnel data has let them down this season, were trying out updated rear and front wings that they hope will help Alonso take the fight to Vettel.
Subbed by AJN.
Indian Grand Prix Free Practice 2, Buddh International Circuit – Friday, 26 October
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.221||35|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:26.339||0.118||33|
|8||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.233||1.012||37|
|11||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:28.004||1.783||32|
|21||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:30.950||4.729||37|