Sebastian Vettel stormed to P1 in both practice sessions from Albert Park as the 2013 Formula 1 season kicks off. Vettel’s Red Bull was the class of the field as he and the team picked up where they left off at the end of last season. There was a lot of interesting data collected as the super soft tire compound took center stage. The new Pirelli rubber was due to be faster by approximately a second, but suffered an extremely short life with times dropping almost immediately.
The real surprise from practice was how slow the McLaren was. Jenson Button was only able to manage P11 while McLaren newbie Sergio Perez finished P13. Martin Whitmarsh stated that McLaren needs to be concerned and the car is not getting grip. Certainly big issues for the Woking guys during the first proper sessions of the season. Just from what I could tell from watching a couple of Jenson Button’s laps, the car WAS in fact struggling for grip with Button often in a four wheel drift. Unusual for a guy that is usually spot on with grip and tire protection.
Mercedes AMG F1 had a great start to FP2. Both Lewis and Nico set good times. Rosberg would end P3 and Lewis P7. It all went wrong for the team at the end of the session however. It started with Lewis Hamilton sliding off at turn six. Lewis radioed into the team and said he had issues in the back of the car that caused him to go straight off. Nico Rosberg would pull his Mercedes W04 off track about two minutes later with a gearbox failure. So while the Mercedes looks to have great pace, the mechanical reliability is now in question going forward this weekend.
Ferrari looked VERY solid during the afternoon session. Felipe Massa was able to carry over his momentum from last season while Fernando Alonso was business as usual. Not too many complaints out of either driver in regards to the balance of the car.
Aside of the Mercedes AMG issues, Mark Webber had a spin towards the end of the session as well. Giedo Van der Garde had his practice session cut short after he beached his Caterham deep in the litter.
The Williams FW35 was a real surprise as well with almost no pace all session. Maldonado finished P16 and rookie Valtteri Bottas finished P18. Below are all of the classifications for FP2.
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.908 33
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m26.172s + 0.264 31
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.322s + 0.414 26
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.361s + 0.453 37
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault 1m26.680s + 0.772 30
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.748s + 0.840 35
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.772s + 0.864 28
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.855s + 0.947 32
9. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m27.435s + 1.527 34
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.187s + 2.279 34
11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.294s + 2.386 30
12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.311s + 2.403 37
13. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.566s + 2.658 32
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.627s + 2.719 31
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.772s + 2.864 33
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m28.852s + 2.944 36
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m28.968s + 3.060 35
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.386s + 3.478 38
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m29.696s + 3.788 30
20. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m30.165s + 4.257 37
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.600s + 4.692 34
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m32.450s + 6.542 11