A right rear puncture for Sebastian Vettel has dampened spirits at the Red Bull camp, despite dominating Friday’s second practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.
With Fernando Alonso suffering a similar tyre failure in the same session, eyes were once again turned Pirelli’s way, leaving the series’ tyre supplier with more explaining to do over the durability of its rubber.
Off-track speculation aside, it was Vettel narrowly edged out teammate Mark Webber fot top spot by a scant six one-hundredths of a second, while Romain Grosjean claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours, continuing his recent run of fine form to finish third-fastest, albeit over eight-tenths of a second off the leading pace.
But punctures weren’t the only incident that raised eyebrows. At the opposite end of pit lane, the Caterham duo of Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde seemed rather too fixated on claiming track position from one another, and in the process managed to impede a rapid Vettel. Pic was later reprimanded for the incident by the FIA Stewards panel.
Van der Garde found himself in the wars again later in the session, although this time it was his own doing as he once again binned his car after a wild tank-slapper exiting Stavelot – not exactly a corner when one would have an accident. The Dutchman slid into the tyre barriers at high speed, sustaining heavy damage to all corners of his CT03 in another embarrassing incident that places further pressure on the rookie driver as speculation mounts that he won’t see out the season.
After this morning’s showers, drivers initially struggled with a relatively green track. Felipe Massa was particularly vocal with his problems, complaining of a high amount of oversteer en route to the fourth-fastest time.
Hungary winner Lewis Hamilton also struggled with the set-up of his Mercedes, regularly locking up his front tyres, and even having to downshift to sixth gear through Eau Rouge. Despite his problems, he still managed to break into the 1m54’s during his long run.
Also showing good pace on longer runs were Grosjean and Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, who both showed quick and consistent pace, managing to stay around the low 1m55s range. Kimi Räikkönen and Jenson Button were also competitive in their race simulation runs, with the latter’s performance giving a good sign for McLaren, which is targeting a podium result this weekend.
A circuit that Jean-Éric Vergne excels at saw him finish the session in fifth place in the Toro Rosso, a full eleven positions higher than his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Frenchman has a great record at Spa-Francorchamps, winning in Formula Renault 3.5, and finishing eighth in his first visit to the track as a Formula One driver.
The field has another one-hour practice session on Saturday at 11:00am local time (UTC+2) before qualifying gets underway at 2:00pm.
2013 Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:49.331||22|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:49.390||+ 0.059||34|
|3.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:50.149||+ 0.818||34|
|4.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:50.164||+ 0.833||27|
|5.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:50.253||+ 0.922||28|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:50.318||+ 0.987||33|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:50.510||+ 1.179||21|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:50.536||+ 1.205||27|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:50.601||+ 1.270||33|
|10.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:50.611||+ 1.280||27|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:50.629||+ 1.298||30|
|12.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:50.751||+ 1.420||27|
|13.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:50.972||+ 1.641||33|
|14.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:50.991||+ 1.660||28|
|15.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:51.195||+ 1.864||28|
|16.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:51.447||+ 2.116||26|
|17.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:51.568||+ 2.237||28|
|18.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:51.644||+ 2.313||26|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:53.157||+ 3.826||21|
|20.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:53.251||+ 3.920||29|
|21.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:53.482||+ 4.151||28|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:54.418||+ 5.087||12|