Mark Webber has taken Red Bull Racing to the top of the Friday practice timesheets, backing up his Friday morning effort to go quickest in an action-packed afternoon’s running at Suzuka.
The Australian narrowly edged out Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel for top spot, while the likes of Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov all crashed out during the ninety-minute session.
The session had barely begun when Paul di Resta managed to slide into the barrier at Spoon Curve while attempting his first timed lap. The Scot caused heavy damage to his Force India, ruling him out of the afternoon’s action.
Over at Mercedes, the team’s mechanics were kept busy between practice sessions. The crew worked on fitting a new engine to Nico Rosberg’s car – after his suffered an oil pressure failure in the closing seconds of FP1 – while also putting new suspension components on Michael Schumacher’s car.
Their efforts for Schumacher would ultimately prove to be a waste of time, as the soon to be retiring German succeeded in dropping a wheel into the dirt approaching Spoon, triggering a near-identical crash to that of di Resta. Despite his accident, Schumacher still managed to post a lap time that was good enough for the top-ten.
Caterham had its own dramas in the session. Having spent the morning’s session on the sidelines while the team ran reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, Heikki Kovalainen struggled to get his CT01 to behave through the circuit’s sweeping corners.
Meanwhile, team-mate Vitaly Petrov became the session’s third major victim when he crashed out at Turn 1 after his rear wing decided to part company with his car along the start/finish straight. Fortunately the Russian emerged unhurt after coming to a rest in the gravel trap.
At the pointy end of the field, Webber’s fastest lap of 1:32.493 came on a soft-tyre run to bump Hamilton off top spot. With Fernando Alonso also making it into the top-five, it ensures fans should get set for a closely-fought final practice and qualifying session tomorrow.
Nico Hülkenberg continued to demonstrate his strong pace in the Force India, clocking the fourth-fastest time overall and doing no harm to the rumours linking him with a seat alongside Alonso at Ferrari next year.
Hülkenberg aside, the timesheets didn’t show too many surprises, aside from Bruno Senna going an impressive eighth-quickest, while Kimi Räikkönen languished down the order, losing much of the session to a KERS problem.
To add to his woes, his Lotus team announced after the session that they would not continue to run their revolutionary ‘double DRS’ system for the remainder of the weekend.
2012 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:32.493||34|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:32.707||+ 0.214||32|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:32.836||+ 0.343||37|
|4.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:32.987||+ 0.494||30|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:33.093||+ 0.600||28|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:33.107||+ 0.614||35|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:33.349||+ 0.856||22|
|8.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:33.499||+ 1.006||35|
|9.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:33.614||+ 1.121||32|
|10.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:33.750||+ 1.257||13|
|11.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:33.866||+ 1.373||19|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:33.903||+ 1.410||36|
|13.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:33.983||+ 1.490||33|
|14.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:34.291||+ 1.798||12|
|15.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:34.300||+ 1.807||33|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:34.863||+ 2.370||32|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:35.080||+ 2.587||34|
|18.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:35.711||+ 3.218||41|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:35.870||+ 3.377||37|
|20.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:36.194||+ 3.701||32|
|21.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:36.636||+ 4.143||28|
|22.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:37.342||+ 4.849||30|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:37.701||+ 5.208||35|
|24.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||no time||2|