Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has bounced back from technical gremlins to finish fastest in Friday’s second practice session at the Austrian Grand Prix..

Vettel’s apparent gearbox issues experienced in the opening practice session – in which compatriot Nico Rosberg was fastest in his Mercedes – were claims dismissed by Ferrari, who confirmed that it wasn’t a gearbox issue, as first reported, that stopped the German from completing his planned programme of running.

But the dramas weren’t fully resolved, as he was later informed by his team that he did in fact have a gearbox problem with about 25 minutes remaining in the session. Nonetheless, he still finished the session fastest overall, posting a time of 1:09.600 to edge out Rosberg by 0.011 seconds.

Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen set the early pace in his SF15-T, posting a 1:10.298 – one second faster than he managed in FP1 – but it wasn’t long before Lewis Hamilton went quicker by over one-tenth of a second. Räikkönen would improve his time later on, clocking a 1:09.860 to go third-fastest overall.

Over at McLaren, Fernando Alonso finally gave the MP4-30’s new front wing design its first on-track running. Teammate Jenson Button ran the older-spec nose in a straight comparison, but his session was disrupted by an unspecified Honda engine issue which ultimately proved terminal.

There were also dramas at Toro Rosso, where rookie driver Max Verstappen was complaining of a headache over the pit-to-car radio; the Dutchman returned to the pits for fluids (it was suggested his ailment was dehydration-related) before going on to post the eighth-fastest time of the session.

A number of drivers explored the limits of their cars and the Red Bull Ring layout with a series of off-track moments, most notably at Turn 1. Rookie driver Carlos Sainz was lucky to avoid the tyre barriers after a wild off at the Audi Ultra corner, while Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo both had rather hairy moments with trips through the run-off at Turns 8 and 9.

Hamilton looked particularly unsettled in the session, finishing fifth-fastest and half a second off the leading pace.

Pastor Maldonado – who finished an impressive fourth-fastest – also had a moment late in the session, flat-spotting his Lotus’ tyres before sliding off into the gravel.

Behind Hamilton, the remainder of the top-ten fastest runners were an unexpected bunch. Nico Hülkenberg continued the momentum of his shock Le Mans 24 Hours win on debut by going sixth-fastest in the Force India, one-tenth of a second quicker than the second Lotus of Romain Grosjean, who was back in the E23 Hybrid after reserve driver Jolyon Palmer drove in FP1.

Verstappen was eighth fastest, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Force India’s Sergio Pérez.

Despite claims that its Mercedes-powered FW37s had the pace to challenge Ferrari this weekend, neither Williams featured at all on the timesheets, a year on from their surprise front-row lockout at this very circuit. Valtteri Bottas was fourteenth-fastest and 1.1 seconds off the pace, with Massa one spot behind.

Saturday sees a third and final practice session beginning at 11:00 local time (GMT +2) before qualifying at 14:00.

Formula 1 Grosser Preis von Österreich 2015 – Free Practice 2 Results
Pos Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel de Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:09.600 28
2. Nico Rosberg de Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:09.611 + 0.011 50
3. Kimi Räikkönen fi Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T 1:09.860 + 0.260 41
4. Pastor Maldonado ve Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:09.914 + 0.314 44
5. Lewis Hamilton uk Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W06 Hybrid 1:10.137 + 0.537 49
6. Nico Hülkenberg de Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:10.160 + 0.560 49
7. Romain Grosjean fr Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid 1:10.267 + 0.667 38
8. Max Verstappen nl Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:10.356 + 0.756 48
9. Felipe Nasr br Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:10.495 + 0.895 39
10. Sergio Pérez mx Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08 1:10.585 + 0.985 46
11. Carlos Sainz es Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10 1:10.631 + 1.031 50
12. Daniil Kvyat ru Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:10.686 + 1.086 48
13. Marcus Ericsson se Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34 1:10.744 + 1.144 40
14. Valtteri Bottas fi Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:10.746 + 1.146 34
15. Felipe Massa br Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37 1:11.011 + 1.411 42
16. Fernando Alonso es McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:11.517 + 1.917 17
17. Daniel Ricciardo au Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11 1:11.676 + 2.076 38
18. Jenson Button uk McLaren Honda MP4-30 1:11.919 + 2.319 17
19. Will Stevens uk Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:12.522 + 2.922 34
20. Roberto Merhi es Manor Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:13.094 + 5.058 34

Image via XPB Images

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