Order was restored in Friday’s second practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit, with a Red Bull Racing 1-2 that was led by Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel was one-tenth of a second faster than teammate Mark Webber, and three-tenths faster than Lewis Hamilton, who finished the session third-quickest in his Mercedes.
It was a similar story when the teams performed their long runs. Red Bull was consistently recording times in the 1m46s range, where as rivals Mercedes and Lotus could only manage best times of mid 1m47s. On this basis, it looks set to be another race poised to be dominated by the bulls.
The twilight session – with its conditions much more representative of what will be present in Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race – gave teams much more of an understanding on tyres and car performance. The air and track temperature had dropped quite a bit since FP1; track temperature dropped from 47°C to 38°C between the two sessions.
Interestingly, McLaren took a different set-up approach by running a slimmer rear wing to improve straightline speed, thus topping the speed trap. The lack of downforce means they will be considerably slower in in the high-speed final sector of the lap, however they will be incredibly hard to pass in a straight line, which could cause headaches for front running teams on different race strategies.
There were a brake failures throughout the session. Max Chilton’s brake duct fell off his Marussia at Turn 11, while Paul Di Resta suffered a puncture that cut into the inside wall of his front left tyre, possibly also caused by a faulty brake duct. Romain Grosjean’s session was interrupted when his front right brake disc shattered.
Unlike India, we won’t be seeing drivers dive for the pits after two laps as the soft compound performs much better at the Yas Marina Circuit. Expect around 12-15 laps to be run before the first pit stop for those starting on the softer Pirelli rubber.
After a slow opening practice session, Fernando Alonso managed to place his Ferrari in the top ten with the eighth-fastest time, just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber, with the German looking good to collect some decent points come Sunday after retiring from a points-paying position a week ago in Delhi.
Aside from the Red Bulls’ incredible race-simulation pace, the only driver who looked close to catching them was Kimi Raikkonen, who was setting times in the mid to low 1:47s on his high-fuel runs.
Webber closed the gap to Vettel down to one-tenth of a second in his qualifying-style simulation, but was faster in the long runs by session’s end, giving Vettel something to worry about.
Saturday’s final practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +4), followed by qualifying at 5:00pm.
2013 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:41.335||35|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:41.490||+ 0.155||32|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:41.690||+ 0.355||37|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:41.726||+ 0.391||42|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:41.758||+ 0.423||41|
|6.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:42.006||+ 0.671||36|
|7.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:42.010||+ 0.675||31|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:42.171||+ 0.836||31|
|9.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:42.324||+ 0.989||41|
|10.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:42.440||+ 1.105||36|
|11.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:42.509||+ 1.174||39|
|12.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:42.607||+ 1.272||18|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:42.806||+ 1.471||27|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:42.952||+ 1.617||36|
|15.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:42.998||+ 1.663||27|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:43.152||+ 1.817||29|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:43.271||+ 1.936||36|
|18.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:43.565||+ 2.230||36|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:44.138||+ 2.803||35|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:44.459||+ 3.124||35|
|21.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:44.525||+ 3.190||38|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:45.565||+ 4.230||27|