MELBOURNE, Australia — Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull 1-2 in the second free practice session for the Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, to hint that not a lot has changed since 2012.
The world champion, who also topped the times in first practice, lapped in 1:26.070 on Pirelli’s medium tires before cutting that back to 1:25.908 on the super softs. Both times were faster than team mate Mark Webber’s, the Australian lapping in 1:26.172 on the super softs to go second fastest. Webber survived a half spin at turn 13.
“Overall it was a good day for us,” Vettel said. “It was pretty seamless and there was no trouble with the car. After all the mileage of testing, it was fun to be out there — this circuit doesn’t get easier, it’s a good challenge. The soft tire doesn’t last too long, but the harder tire is a decent race tire. The weather should be quite changeable tomorrow and, as we can’t predict how much that will impact the tires and car balance, we need to be ready to change things. Today was a good day and the balance was good, but we need to be ready for what’s coming up.”
A late run on the super soft tires saw Nico Rosberg lap his Mercedes in 1:26.322 for third place, a position previously occupied by teammate Lewis Hamilton. The latter’s attempt to go quicker on the super softs was spoiled by a lock-up which put him over the grass at Turn Nine, and later he stopped against the tire wall at turn six having gone straight-on into the gravel trap. He was thus held down to seventh position on 1:26.772. Soon afterwards Rosberg was told to stop because of a gearbox problem.
Fourth and fifth were the Lotuses of Kimi Raikkonen on 1:26.361 and Romain Grosjean on 1:26.680, while Fernando Alonso coped with the odd KERS problem on the way to 1:26.748 for Ferrari.
Alonso’s teammate, Felipe Massa, ran strongly on the prime tires, survived a near clash with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez as the Mexican came out of the pits just as the Ferrari was arriving in Turn One, and was eighth on 1:26.855.
Adrian Sutil was again on strong form for Force India, with the ninth fastest time of 1:27.435, then there was a gap back to Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber on 1:28.187. The McLarens thus finished outside the top 10, with Jenson Button 11th on 1:28.294 and Sergio Perez 13th on 1:28.566. They were separated by Paul di Resta’s Force India on 1m 28.311s.