Spanish GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel clocked the fastest time during the sunny Free Practice 2 on Friday afternoon at the Circuit de Catalunya. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) rounded out the top three fastest drivers in the session.
It had rained during the morning session, but the rain clouds disappeared and it was sunny and the track was dry as FP2 got underway.
The ambient air temperature at the start of the session was 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius.)
World champion Sebastian Vettel got his Red Bull out on the track ahead of the rest. Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Nico Hulkenberg were next to exit the pits.
After losing so much track time due to the rain in the morning, the teams were keen to get things rolling. Fortunately, there was not too much difference between Pirelli's hard and medium compound slicks, so the teams did not have to spend a lot of time comparing tires. Instead they could concentrate on evaluating the aero upgrades they had brought to Spain.
Vettel was the first to post a time ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ 1:27.307 ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ but Hulkenberg beat that with a 1:27.063.
The times tumbled quickly. Jean Eric Vergne set a 1:25.705. All but three of the cars were on track five minutes into the session as Lewis Hamilton blasted in a 1:23.900 in his Mercedes.
Most of the drivers were using Pirelli's hard compound slick with the orange sidewalls. Several tried out the experimental hard compound slick that was easy to spot because of its "black" sidewalls.
12 minutes into the session, Nico Rosberg moved to the top with a 1:23.801 while his teammate Hamilton had a spin and got going again.
14 minutes into the session, the initial flurry of runs was over and there were only three drivers on the track. One was Kimi Raikkonen who was third fastest with a time of 1:24.493 in his Lotus. The other two were Marussia teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi who were 21st and 22nd and last on the timing screens.
22 minutes into the session, Mark Webber moved into first place with a 1:23.112 and his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel took second with a 1:23.446. Both were on the hard compound tire.
27 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) snatched first away from Webber with a 1:23.030.
By now several drivers had switched to the medium compound Pirelli slick with the white sidewalls.
37 minutes into the session, Webber, on the mediums, took over the top spot with a 1:22.891.
41 minutes into the session, Vettel, also on the mediums, beat that with a 1:22.808.
At this stage it was team by team: Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Toro Rosso filling the top eight places in that order.
But that order did not remain for long. Midway through the 90-minute session the top six were: Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Rosberg and Adrian Sutil (Force India.)
With 39 minutes remaining in the session, Pastor Maldonado, who won this race last year in the Williams, was down in 16th place with a time 2.513 seconds slower than Vettel who was first with his 1:22.808. Alonso was a close second with a 1:22.825 and Webber third with a 1:22.891.
By now some of the drivers including Vettel and Webber were doing race simulations ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ starting long runs with heavy fuel loads to see how the tires degraded over a number of laps and how drastically the lap times slowed. The teams needed to find out how many laps they could get out of the medium tires at the start of the race and the hard tires later in the race.
Lap times, therefore, were in the 1:29 to 1:30 range for the likes of the Red Bull drivers, so a good six to seven seconds slower than the fastest times when the tires were new and the fuel loads light.
With 19 minutes remaining, Paul di Resta parked his Force India on the pit straight after the left rear tire delaminated.
The long runs continued. Hamilton had hard tires on his Mercedes and was told to keep his lap times in the 1:32 range.
Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil provided a little spice in the closing stages of the session by nearly colliding in Turn 1.
With 5 minutes remaining, 20 of the 22 drivers were out on the track.
The top 10 at the end of the session were: Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Jean-Eric Vergne and Paul di Resta.
Only 0.590 of a second separated the top six. But 4.162 seconds separated Vettel in first and Chilton in last.