Sebastian Vettel has yet to win a Formula 1 race on home soil, but he signaled his intent by ending day one of the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring fastest of all.
By his own admission Red Bull’s world champion was out of sorts in the morning session, but some set-up changes brought the best out of the RB9 and he reclaimed the high ground with a best time of 1:30.416 at the end of the 90 minutes FP2 session.
“Mercedes were very quick this morning. I wasn’t entirely happy with the car this morning. I was quite happy with what we had this afternoon,” said Vettel afterwards.
Teammate Mark Webber was third fastest, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg splitting them on the timing screens in second place.
The Vettel versus Rosberg battle on home soil looks set to be an intriguing contest and with the two Germans looking good for a podium finish, if not a win on race day. The difference between the two in the afternoon session was 0.235 seconds.
Mercedes have clearly established a strong pace, perhaps the W04 is even the fastest piece of kit out there. With their race pace now apparently sorted the Silver Arrows are very much the most likely to prevent Vettel running away with this title campaign.
Although Lewis Hamilton only ended the afternoon session eighth fastest and 0.888 seconds down on the top lap time, he showed a glimpse of his hand in the morning 90 minute session which he topped. For now it is looking like a four way shoot out for top spot in qualifying – Red Bull versus Mercedes – and probably for the race too.
The quartet also showed formidable pace in the heavy fuel load runs, with Mercedes possibly having the edge – although predictions at the end of day one of a grand prix weekend is not an exact science.
The Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and fifth respectively. The pair were a tad under half a second down on Vettel’s best, suggesting a step forward compared to a week earlier at Silverstone.
An electrical failure on his Ferrari prevented Fernando Alonso from doing any laps in the morning, but he recovered well to end the session sixth fastest, with teammate Felipe Massa 0.003 (!) seconds slower in seventh, the pair a bit over half a second down on Vettel’s best.
Ninth fastest, behind ex-teammate Hamilton, was Jenson Button, the McLaren driver looking more effective than what has been the norm for him recently.
Paul di Resta was the quicker of the two Force India drivers, ending the session tenth, with Adrian Sutil 11th. They in turn were up on the Toro Rosso duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne who were 12th and 13th respectively when the chequered flag waved to end the session.
Thus the pecking order at the end of day one in Germany at the front appears to be dead heat between Red Bull and Mercedes, next up Lotus, then Ferrari. Time will tell if this will be how it pans out in qualifying and in the race. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.
German Grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 5 July 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:30.416||39|
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:30.683||0.267||41|
|10||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:31.797||1.381||40|
|11||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:31.824||1.408||34|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:33.804||3.388||40|