US GP Practice 2: Vettel fastest as Red Bull looks dominant

Sebastian Vettel during practice for the United States Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas on November 16, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

Sebastian Vettel was untouchable on the first day in Austin

Nov.16 Apex) The signs are ominous for their rivals as Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber hogged the top two spots on the timing screens at the end of the first day of practice for the United States Grand Prix at the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8 makes a pitstop. Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday 16 November 2012.Although not quite the 1.5 seconds it had been in FP1, again there was substantial daylight between Vettel’s best time of 1 minute 37.718 seconds and his closest rival – 0.757 seconds to be precise – which suggests that the German has taken a liking to the spanking new Circuit of the Americas. Which is no surprise as he appears to thrive on fast and flowing layouts – Suzuka and Buddh International Circuit spring to mind.

The only sign of weakness was the fact that the world champion, who is hot favourite to notch up his third title in as many years, spent half the session in the pits as a water leak on his RB8 was repaired. But when he was out on track and in full flight he was easily the quickest man in Austin.

Behind the pace setting Red Bull pair was the only other world championship contender Fernando Alonso who would have been pleased that the FP1 two second gap was down to a more respectable level. The Ferrari driver ended the session third, a mere 0.008 seconds off Webber and 0.765 seconds down on Vettel.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012.Next up were the McLarens with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button fourth and fifth respectively. Hamilton survived a big spin at the halfway mark, but some sublime skills kept it pointing in the right direction…no harm done.

Felipe Massa was sixth fastest, and again, as in FP1, the top six places were annexed by the big three teams.

Best of the rest was Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes, while his teammate  Michael Schumacher improved his pace but was only good for tenth best in the afternoon.

Williams endured a subdued morning but featured at the sharp end of business by the time Austin had heated up and the temperature of the brand new track surface increased. Bruno Senna was eighth fastest, with Pastor Maldonado 12th.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012.Kamui Kobayashi was again fastest of the the Sauber pair, setting the ninth best time while Sergio Perez – in his ‘home’ grand prix – was 14th on the timing sheets.

Out of the top ten were both Lotus drivers, including Abu Dhabi GP winner Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, who finished the session 11th and 13th.

Throughout the season the top eight to ten drivers have always been within one second or so at the top of the timing screens. In Austin the top four were separated by 1.050 seconds, which gives an indication of how Red Bull, Vettel in particular, have upped their game.

Subbed by AJN.

United States Grand Prix Practice 2, Circuit of the Americas – Friday 16 November 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:37.718 17
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.475 0.757 36
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.483 0.765 35
4 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.748 1.030 31
5 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.786 1.068 32
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:39.029 1.311 33
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.448 1.730 32
8 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:39.531 1.813 38
9 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.653 1.935 36
10 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:40.115 2.397 30
11 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:40.166 2.448 32
12 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:40.230 2.512 35
13 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:40.286 2.568 32
14 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:40.326 2.608 35
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:40.435 2.717 30
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:40.516 2.798 32
17 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:40.700 2.982 34
18 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:41.430 3.712 35
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:42.476 4.758 38
20 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:42.652 4.934 33
21 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:42.846 5.128
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:43.538 5.820
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:44.453 6.735
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:45.114 7.396