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Japanese GP 2011

OCTOBER 7, 2011

Practice 2 Report - Button fastest, but Red Bull look unbeatable in Japan

Jenson Button, Japanese GP 2011
© The Cahier Archive

Jenson Button's McLaren (1:31.901) set the quickest lap in the second session of free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix but devastating long run Red Bull pace suggested that the race could be another formality for the constructors champions.

For the record, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari (1:32.075) set second fastest lap on the option (soft) tyres, ahead of Sebastian Vettel (1:32.095), Mark Webber (1:32.147) and Felipe Massa (1:32.448).

Next up were the Mercedes twins, Michael Schumacher (1:32.710) lapping a quarter of a second quicker than team mate Nico Rosberg (1:32.982). Lewis Hamilton's McLaren was next (1:33.245) with Vitaly Petrov's Renault (1:33.446) and Sebastian Buemi's Toro Rosso (1:33.681) completing the top 10.

Although it is no longer accurate to say that the Red Bull is best suited to fast, flowing circuits given the RB7's pace everywhere in 2011, Adrian Newey's cars are always formidable at Suzuka. The high fuel runs on the option tyres suggested that the race could once again be a two-horse race between Vettel and Webber.

The Australian is always fast at Suzuka, last year tracking Vettel all the way after being narrowly outqualified.

Vettel ran an impressive high fuel sequence that went: 1:37.991; 1:37.813; 1:37.556; 1:37.695; 1:38.190; 1:37.823. Webber answered that with: 1:37.972; 1:37.857; 1:37.769; 1:41.056; 1:38.308.

By contrast, Button, who was the quicker of the two McLaren men, managed just one sub 1m39s lap (1:38.976) and the quickest long run lap from Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was 1:39.050.

It was another difficult session for the Williams team as Rubens Barrichello put two wheels on the grass going into Degner and crashed heavily, while Pastor Maldonado pulled off with an engine problem.

Kamui Kobayashi survived a spectacular moment going through 130R as he attempted to take his Sauber through the high-speed corner with DRS activated.

It was a feat that only seemed to be achieved on a regular basis by the Red Bulls and Kobayashi's attempt resulted in a spectacular save that brought the car back from a seemingly impossible accident, thereby avoiding a big accident.

Sauber has a heavily revised car in Japan, the C30 featuring new front and rear wings, floor, barge boards and brake ducts.