Vettel quickest in Italian Grand Prix FP2

Championship leader dominates at Monza.

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel finished FP2 at Monza more than six-tenths clear of his nearest challenger, team-mate Mark Webber. After winning in Spa two weeks ago, Vettel said he expected a tougher challenge in Italy. So far it has not materialised.

The composition of the leaderboard was set in the first 35 minutes of the 90-minute session. When the lights went green the field took to the track with the hard tyre. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was the first to hold P1 for any meaningful length of time. His lap of 1:25.725 was half a second quicker than his best time in FP1.

Conforming to his usual methodology, Vettel allowed the early runners to set times before emerging from the garage, ten minutes into the session. He instantly went to the top of the order with 1:25.616 and then took half a second out of that on his next flyer.

Webber lingered in the garage as others got down to serious work. Technical issues with his car, believed to be related to KERS, delayed his release. When he did emerge, around 16 minutes into the session, he slotted into P2 behind Vettel on his first timed lap.

At this stage teams were beginning to switch to the medium compound Pirelli tyre. Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Max Chilton were the first to sample the while-banded option but the whole field was close behind. Vettel set three purple sectors and reset his benchmark time to 1:24.721 just after the half-hour mark. No-one else would get close to that in the remainder of the session but Vettel, after a cool-down lap, bettered it with 1:24.453 on his next flier.

Webber, meanwhile, emerged for his medium-tyre run. He immediately improved his time also, but did not get close to Vettel.  After this the majority of the field settled into long runs for the second half of the session. Copying their procedure from Spa, Red Bull split their drivers, with Webber staying on the medium tyre and Vettel returning to the hard compound. The pace of all the runners immediately dropped off by five to six seconds and the order didn’t change before the end of the session.

When the chequered flag came out, Vettel was P1 and six-tenths clear of Webber. Behind them came the Lotus cars , with Kimi Räikkönen ahead of Grosjean – but only by virtue of setting his time first. Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest for Ferrari, ahead of FP1’s fastest man Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was seventh quickest, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was eighth, and the McLarens completed the top ten with Jenson Button ahead of Sergio Pérez.

Italian Grand Prix 2013 – Free Practice 2

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:24.453
2. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:25.076 +0.623
3. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:25.116 +0.663
4. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:25.116 +0.663
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.330 +0.877
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:25.340 +0.887
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:25.367 +0.914
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.519 +1.066
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.532 +1.079
10. Sergio Pérez McLaren 1:25.627 +1.174
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1:25.830 +1.377
12. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1:25.888 +1.435
13. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:26.028 +1.575
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:26.138 +1.685
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:26.224 +1.771
16. Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:26.385 +1.932
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:26.599 +2.146
18.  Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:27.198 +2.74
19. Max Chilton Marussia 1:27.548 +3.095
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1:27.696 +3.243
21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:27.771 +3.318
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:28.057 +3.604