Sebastian Vettel has ended the second practice session fastest overall for Red Bull, despite suffering from a tyre failure towards the end of the session. The reigning Champion was followed by team-mate Mark Webber in 2nd, with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean a close 3rd.
The Formula 1 paddock was bathed in glorious sunshine for the second practice session around Spa-Francorchamps, as preparations continued up and down the paddock for the Belgian Grand Prix. After the damp conditions of practice one, the sunshine and warmer conditions allowed the drivers to instantly take to the track and begin setting lap times. Charles Pic returned for Caterham after being replaced by Heikki Kovalainen in the opening session, with the Frenchman understandably keen to get his preparations for the weekend underway.
Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button got proceedings underway in the Belgian sunshine, and were quickly followed out onto the track by almost the entire field. Nico Hulkenberg subsequently produced the first time lap of the session with a 01:57.594, which was almost instantly bettered by team-mate Esteban Gutierrez with a 01:52.954. As more drivers gradually took to the circuit, the times at the top tumbled incessantly, with Daniel Ricciardo, Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado all momentarily rising to the top.
Felipe Massa continued the trend for the Scuderia, as the Brazilian driver managed to produce a 01:51.699 as Sebastian Vettel was forced to take avoiding action at the Bus-Stop as the two Caterhams ran wide and then rejoined the circuit perilously close to the German. Fernando Alonso soon disposed of his Ferrari team-mate with a 01:51.645, before Mark Webber asserted his authority over proceedings with a 01:51.317. Felipe Massa momentarily returned to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:51.125, before reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel lowered the benchmark even further with a 01:50.867. The German continued to improve at the front, as the field took full advantage of the dry conditions.
As the session continued Mark Webber momentarily returned to the top for Red Bull, before team-mate Sebastian Vettel continued to assert his dominance on the track with a 01:49.331. As the Red Bull duo improved at the front, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa began complaining of oversteer on his car as the Brazilian driver struggled. After finishing the opening session of the weekend 21st and 22nd respectively, the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen managed to leap to the sharp end of the pack into 3rd and 4th respectively, as the sun continued to shine down upon the circuit.
In traditional practice two format, the majority of the teams and drivers opted for heavy fuel loads in a bid to further their preparations for the 44-lap race on Sunday. After an impressive display of pace during the damp opening practice session, Force India’s Paul di Resta ran extensively wide at Turn 10 but managed to easily return to the circuit due to the large tarmac run-off area. Jean-Eric Vergne managed to rise up to 5th for Toro Rosso as the session entered its midway point, with the Frenchman producing a 01:50.253 to rise ahead of the likes of Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg, the latter running very wide at Turn 18.
Towards the end of the session, reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel suffered a worrying puncture on his right-rear tyre, which forced the Red Bull ace to limp back to the pits. As all the attention switched to the cause of the puncture, Giedo van der Garde lost control of the rear of his Caterham on the exit of Turn 15 and speared into the retaining tyre barrier. The subsequent damage understandably saw the end of the Dutchman’s session, as his stricken CT03 was cleared by the efficient Belgian marshals.
As the session drew to a close, Sebastian Vettel remained fastest despite his earlier tyre failure. Max Chilton managed to return to the track during the last few minutes, after his Marussia mechanics carried out a lengthy change to his steering rack. Unlike practice one he was unable to finish ahead of his team-mate, with both Caterhams also out-performing their Anglo-Russian rivals. Sebastian Vettel was followed home by team-mate Mark Webber, after a promising day for Red Bull. Romain Grosjean was a close 3rd for Lotus, as the Frenchman continues to improve for Lotus.
The teams’ and drivers’ will return to the circuit for one final practice session on Saturday morning, before the all-important qualifying hour later in the day. The teams’ will unquestionably continue crunching the numbers long into the evening, as the quest for a competitive car for the remainder of the weekend continues.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m49.331s 22 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m49.390s +0.059s 34 3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m50.149s +0.818s 34 4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.164s +0.833s 27 5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.253s +0.922s 28 6. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m50.318s +0.987s 33 7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m50.510s +1.179s 21 8. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m50.536s +1.205s 27 9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.601s +1.270s 33 10. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m50.611s +1.280s 27 11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m50.629s +1.298s 30 12. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m50.751s +1.420s 27 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m50.972s +1.641s 33 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m50.991s +1.660s 28 15. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m51.195s +1.864s 28 16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m51.447s +2.116s 26 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m51.568s +2.237s 28 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m51.644s +2.313s 26 19. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m53.157s +3.826s 21 20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m53.251s +3.920s 29 21. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m53.482s +4.151s 28 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m54.418s +5.087s 12
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