Red Bull Racing continued to show they’re still the team to beat in Formula One with Sebastian Vettel following up his fastest time in FP1 with another dominant display in the second free practice session ahead of Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel was joined at the top of the timesheet by team-mate Mark Webber who finished the session just two tenths of a second adrift of the defending champion.
It wasn’t always plain sailing for Webber, however, and in the closing minutes of the session the Australian lost control in Turn 13 but managed to catch the spin and carry on.
“Overall it was a good day for us,” said Vettel. “It was pretty seamless and there was no trouble with the car. After all the mileage of testing, it was fun to be out there – this circuit doesn’t get easier; it’s a good challenge.
“The soft tyre doesn’t last too long, but the harder compound is a decent race tyre,” he added. “The weather should be quite changeable tomorrow and as we can’t predict how much that will impact the tyres and car balance we need to be ready to change things. Today was a good day and the balance was good but we need to be ready for what’s coming up.”
With the Red Bull drivers dominant, on supersoft tyres, third place went to Nico Rosberg, whose lap of 1:26.422 left him four tenths of a second off Vettel’s pace. The Mercedes driver might have improved his time but for a late gearbox problem that left him stranded at the side of the track.
Rosberg’s problem came almost immediately after team-mate Lewis Hamilton had encountered his own difficulties. The Briton was pushing hard to improve on his seventh-fastest time when he straight-lined Turn 6 and ended up in the wall, his session over.
Kimi Raikkonen claimed fourth place in the session, with team-mate Romain Grosjean finishing fifth. Fernando Alonso claimed the day’s sixth-fastest time with Hamilton separating him from Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in eighth.
Ninth-placed Adrian Sutil looked impressive on his return to grand prix weekend action, with the Force India driver logging a lap of 1:27.435. That left him 1.5 seconds off Vettel but almost a second clear of team-mate Paul Di Resta. The top 10 was completed by Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.
2013 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Times
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:25.908s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.172s
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.322s
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:26.361s
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.680s
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.748s
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.772s
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.855s
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:27.435s
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:28.187s
11. Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.294s
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1:28.311s
13. Sergio Perez McLaren 1:28.566s
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:28.627s
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:28.772s
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:28.852s
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:28.968s
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.386s
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:29.696s
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1:30.165s
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1:30.600s
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:32.450s