Belgian GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report


Sebastian Vettel. Belgian GP 2013

Sebastian Vettel. Belgian GP 2013 

 © Active Pictures

The Red Bulls dominated Free Practice 2 at Spa on Friday afternoon as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber topped the times with laps of 1:49.331 and 1:49.390 respectively. That was a full eight-tenths of a second quicker than Romain Grosjean who wound up third in his Lotus with a time of 1:50.149, and Felipe Massa who was fourth with a 1:50.164 in his Ferrari.

But while the Red Bulls were the only cars in the 1:49s, the next dozen cars were all in the 1:50 range.

The morning rain and dark clouds disappeared during the lunch break and it was warm and sunny in the afternoon.

The ambient air temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was also 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius).

Nico Hulkenberg was the first out on the track in his Sauber. As the drivers began to set lap times – no waiting in the pits like they did in FP1 – Pastor Maldonado went to the top of the screens with a 1:52.104 in his Williams and Felipe Masse quickly beat that with a 1:51.699 in his Ferrari.

The wet FP1 ended with Fernando Alonso having posted the fastest lap with a 1:55.198 in his Ferrari while Force India teammates Paul di Resta (1:55.224) and Adrian Sutil (1:55.373) rounded out the top three.

But now, just eight minutes into the session, Alonso clocked a 1:51.645 and Mark Webber (Red Bull) beat that with a 1:51.317. A couple of minutes later Massa redeemed Ferrari’s honor with a 1:51.125.

13 minutes into the session, Sebastian Vettel became the first driver to get into the 1:50s when he turned a 1:50.867 in his Red Bull. He then improved that to a 1:50.555.

20 minutes into the session, Lewis Hamilton, who had been stuck in the pits with mechanical woes, got out on the circuit and jumped up to fourth fastest behind Vettel, Massa and Alonso with a 1:51.180. Most drivers had made two runs by now and were back in the pits for car checks and adjustments.

At the 30 minute mark, Webber slammed in a 1:49.390 which was a full 1.165 seconds quicker than his teammate. Webber was on Pirelli’s medium slick compound with the white sidewalls. Vettel had set his time on the hard compound tires but now ventured out on the mediums.

And, sure enough, Vettel turned a 1:49.331 to edge ahead of Webber.

There had been plenty of spins and slides (but no crashes) in the slick morning session, but nary an off-track incident had occurred as the halfway mark of FP2 approached. That would change in the second half.

Halfway through the season the top six were: Vettel, Webber, Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Sergio Perez (McLaren.) Only the Red Bull duo had times below the 1:50 mark.

Fast times were no longer the priority as the teams began to do long runs to check tire wear and degradation on heavy fuel loads. But some drivers did work their way into the top 10 by delaying their heavy fuel runs, or as in the case of Alonso, waiting until later in the session to fit the faster medium compound Pirellis.

Webber was doing a long run on the hard tires and was 6.5 seconds slower than his best time on new medium tires.

The race prep work continued during the last 30 minutes of the session. Of course, if it rained on Sunday, and rain was predicted, much of the dry track running would be in vain.

With 20 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel had right rear tire go flat and limped into the pits with the tire shredded.

With 18 minutes remaining in the session, Guido van der Garde crashed his Caterham in Turn 14 – the Paul Frere curve.

Just about everybody was out on the track racking up laps in the final 10 minutes. Did the most laps ( ) and Max Chilton (Marussia) did least laps (9) during the 90 minutes.

The top 10 at the end of FP2 were: Vettel, Webber, Grosjean, Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Raikkonen, Alonso, Perez, Rosberg and di Resta.

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