Red Bull Ring FP2: Vettel and Ferrari stump Mercedes

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Sebastian Vettel set the pace in the second practice session of the Austrian Grand Prix weekend but after claiming top spot his Ferrari was sidelined by more of the technical issues that had blighted his morning session at the Red Bull Ring.

Vettel completed just four laps in the morning before stopping on track and while the afternoon session was more productive, with the German at least able to run consistently in the opening half hour of FP2 on the soft tyre and then to claim top spot with a time of 1:09.600 on his performance run on the supersoft tyre, he was soon after told to return to the garage with a gearbox problem.

The opening part of the session was a busy, as with rain forecast teams rushed to pack as much work as possible in the expectation of a compressed window of opportunity.

On the prime tyre Vettel initially swapped fastest times with Ferrari team-mate Kimi Räikkonen before Nico Rosberg took over at the top. His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton then stole P1 with a lap of 1:10.137s 15 minutes into the session, a tenth and a half faster than Raikkonen. Vettel then took P3 after 25 minutes.

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Räikkonen was the first to switch to supersofts, half an hour into the 90-minute session and he quickly set a new benchmark of 1:09.860. Rosberg then bolted on the option tyres and dumped the Finn down the order with a lap of 1:09.860.

Vettel then grabbed the top spot with 1:09.600, which was 0.011s quicker than Rosberg, while Lewis Hamilton failed to set a representative time on the option rubber, mistakes on his quick laps scuppering any chance he had to taking the fight to Vettel. The championship leader ended the session in P5.

With Vettel in P1 ahead of Rosberg, third place went to Räikkonen, with Pastor Maldonado vaulting Lotus to fourth after finishing 12th in the morning session. Team-mate Romain Grosjean finished the afternoon session in seventh place after ceding his seat to reserve Jolyon Palmer in the morning session.

Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg gave Force India hope of a good weekend to confirm progress made in Montreal by annexing fifth place in the session. In the morning team-mate Sergio Perez had been 10th quickest and the Mexican repeated that in the afternoon.

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Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was the first non-Mercedes or Ferarri-powered car in the order, with the Dutch teen finishing eighth with a lap of 1:10.356, despite complaining of a headache early on in the session. His P8 finish was a repeat of his morning placing.

Verstappen’s team-mate, Carlos Sainz, finished his afternoon programme in P11, with the Italian marque looking susprisingly competitive on a stop-start circuit that was not expected to particularly favour the team’s car.

Ninth place in the afternoon went to Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, with the Brazilian dropping back from fifth place in FP1.

After looking competitive in the morning, with sixth and seventh places for Daniel Ricciardo and Dany Kvyat in the morning, Red Bull Racing slipped in the afternoon, with Kvyat 12th and Ricciardo a lowly 17th.

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Williams too had been quick in the morning, with Valtteri Bottas fourth and Fekipe Massa ninth. IN FP2, however, they reverted to their usual script of focusing on high fuel runs, with Bottas finishing 14th, marginally clear of Massa in 15th, as they concentrated on high-fuel runs.

Fernando Alonso, sidelined by technical problems for a long period in the morning was 16th as he debuted McLaren’s short nose, while Jenson Button used the old version. Button ended the session in P18 ahead of the Manors Will Stevens and Robero Merhi.

Austrian Grand Prix, Free Practice 2 – Friday, 19 June 2015
Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:09.600 28
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:09.611 +0.011s 50
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:09.860 +0.260s 41
4 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:09.914 +0.314s 44
5 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:10.137 +0.537s 49
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:10.160 +0.560s 49
7 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:10.267 +0.667s 38
8 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:10.356 +0.756s 48
9 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:10.495 +0.895s 39
10 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:10.585 +0.985s 46
11 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:10.631 +1.031s 50
12 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:10.686 +1.086s 48
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:10.744 +1.144s 40
14 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:10.746 +1.146s 34
15 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:11.011 +1.411s 42
16 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:11.517 +1.917s 17
17 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:11.676 +2.076s 38
18 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:11.919 +2.319s 17
19 28 Will Stevens Marussia 1:12.522 +2.922s 34
20 98 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:13.094 +3.494s 34