After a pretty interesting first practice, the second session was rather dull. The big stories in P1 were that Rosberg was faster than Schumacher, Button pipped Hamilton and Alonso had the measure of Massa. My big concern for P1 was the pace of Red Bull…or rather lack of pace! Would last years runners up improve in P2?
Alguersari kicked us off by setting a first time of 2:02:757 encouragingly after only a five minute wait. He was joined by the Force India of Liuzzi and McLaren of Button. I’m sorry to say that for the second session running, the position graphic was missing from the left hand part of the screen!
I can tell you though that after 10 minutes, Button led Luizzi, Alonso and Massa. However, new boy Hulkenburg was going very well and quickly dispatched Button with a 1:56:799.
The story at McLaren was that Button was faster in the first sector, with Hamilton quicker in the final two. However, the number two man was struggling with his rear tyres and radioed in to tell the team they were dead after only four laps…is this a future worry?
Meanwhile, Mr Friday soon regained his crown as Rosberg crossed the line with a 1:55:555. The young German gained P1 after just 17 minutes and he pretty much stayed there for the rest of the session.
What of Red Bull then at this stage? Well Webber was again slow in P12, but Vettel was finding some pace.
Half an hour in the positions were as follows:
Rosberg, Hamilton, Schumacher, Button, Hulkenburg, Barrachello, Sutil, Liuzzi, Alonso, Kubica, Massa, Webber, Alguersuari, de la Rossa, Kobayashi, di Grassi, Kovalainen, Trulli.
Now, having been so strong in P1 it may be a shock to see the Ferraris in P9 and P11. However, the team had decided to go on long runs for this session.
Having tested the harder compound, both McLaren drivers rejoined the session around this time with the softer compound fitted.
The circuit was giving a lot of drivers a hard time. Hardly ever used, it severely needed rubber putting down; this was confirmed by Bridgestone. Many drivers were also struggling with the new right hander at turn six was causing a lot of cars to bottom out.
Lower down the grid Torro Rosso were struggling. Buemi had a rear technical failure and his team mate was clearly auditioning for F1 dancing with the stars when his car spun beautifully before continuing on its way.
We were also yet to see times from Glock and Chandhok due to technical issues. The HRT-Cosworth number two’s car had been worked on throughout P1, but the clutch and gear box were simply not working right. This was such a shame because Chandhok is such a nice guy!
The technical difficulties don’t stop there as Webber too was out of his car and finished for the day when we saw his car in bits with only 30 minutes to go. The Australian’s car was worryingly suffering from a drive shaft problem (something Red Bull struggled with in 2009). This only moved to confirm my view that Red Bull are not as competitive as they were last year.
Not a lot changed over the session and the positions listed earlier don’t look very different to the final standings that will follow.
I think today has been very interesting. Clearly McLaren, Ferrari and to an extent Mercedes have delivered on their PR promise of speed. Sure Ferrari weren’t great timewise in P2, but they did look strong. McLaren were pretty consistent across the sessions and despite throwing his toys around in P1, Schumacher found pace in P2.
However, Red Bull were not fast in either session and I’m not sure if this means they were concentrating on long runs. When the camera cut to the pit wall the team didn’t exactly look confident or even happy. It wasn’t good to have Webber’s car up on the jacks but it was encouraging for Vettel to get up to P5. I could be completely wrong (and I hope I am), but I think we should keep a close eye on Red Bull tommorow.
Simply from today, my tip for Pole on Saturday is out of Alonso, Rosberg and perhaps Hamilton. Of course as a Button fan I'd love to throw him in there...but as I say I'm really doing that as a fan. Still I think Jenson was close enough to his team mate to shut some of his critics up. Roll on Saturday.
Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired Gap Laps
1 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:55.409 23
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:55.854 0.445 22
3 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:55.903 0.494 23
4 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:56.076 0.667 28
5 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:56.459 1.050 18
6 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:56.501 1.092 26
7 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:56.555 1.146 30
8 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:56.750 1.341 26
9 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:57.140 1.731 25
10 22 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:57.255 1.846 24
11 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:57.352 1.943 27
12 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:57.361 1.952 29
13 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:57.452 2.043 21
14 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:57.833 2.424 29
15 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:58.155 2.746 29
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:59.799 4.390 31
17 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 2:00.444 5.035 12
18 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2:00.873 5.464 23
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2:00.990 5.581 14
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2:02.037 6.628 3
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2:02.188 6.779 21
22 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2:06.968 11.559 17
23 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari No time 1
24 20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth No time 0