Mark Webber has taken Red Bull Racing to the top of the timesheets

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:32.493   34
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:32.707 + 0.214 32
3. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:32.836 + 0.343 37
4. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:32.987 + 0.494 30
5. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:33.093 + 0.600 28
6. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:33.107 + 0.614 35
7. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:33.349 + 0.856 22
8. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:33.499 + 1.006 35
9. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:33.614 + 1.121 32
10. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:33.750 + 1.257 13
11. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:33.866 + 1.373 19
12. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:33.903 + 1.410 36
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:33.983 + 1.490 33
14. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:34.291 + 1.798 12
15. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:34.300 + 1.807 33
16. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:34.863 + 2.370 32
17. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:35.080 + 2.587 34
18. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:35.711 + 3.218 41
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:35.870 + 3.377 37
20. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:36.194 + 3.701 32
21. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:36.636 + 4.143 28
22. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:37.342 + 4.849 30
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:37.701 + 5.208 35
24. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 no time   2

A double-billing of F1 and V8s at Abu Dhabi!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.