Webber fastest in eventful second practice

2012 Japanese Grand Prix second practice

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Mark Webber was quickest at Suzuka on Friday’s second practice session.

The Red Bull driver was the last of the front-runners to set a time on the soft tyres and ended the session quickest as each driver seemed to find more time as the session went on.

Jenson Button led the way at first before his time was beaten by Romain Grosjean. Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton also took turns at the top before Webber claimed the best time.

The session was interrupted soon after it began when Paul di Resta went off at Spoon curve. The Force India driver put his right-hand wheels on the grass approaching the corner and spun into the barrier.

Heikki Kovalainen had made the same mistake moments earlier but got his car back under control on the run-off area. Practice was red-flagged while the Force India was recovered.

That left Di Resta unable to complete any further running. Another driver whose session was badly interrupted was Kimi Raikkonen, who experienced a KERS fault on his car. He was able to return to the track late in the session to set a faster lap time.

As in Singapore with Bruno Senna, Raikkonen was told to get out of the car carefully, not touching it while he made contact with the ground, in case it gave him an electric shock.

With a quarter of an hour to go in the session Schumacher made much the same mistake as Di Resta with similar consequences – his Mercedes ending up in the barriers at Spoon curve.

As the session came to an end Vitaly Petrov had a fright at the first corner as the rear wing came off his Caterham. Fortunately he spun to a stop without hitting anything.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
12Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’32.49334
24Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’32.7070.21432
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’32.8360.34337
412Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’32.9870.49430
55Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’33.0930.60028
610Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’33.1070.61435
73Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’33.3490.85622
819Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’33.4991.00632
96Felipe MassaFerrari1’33.6141.12132
107Michael SchumacherMercedes1’33.7501.25713
118Nico RosbergMercedes1’33.8661.37319
1215Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’33.9031.41036
1314Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’33.9831.49033
149Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’34.2911.79812
1518Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’34.3001.80733
1616Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’34.8632.37032
1717Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’35.0802.58734
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’35.7113.21841
1921Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’35.8703.37737
2024Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’36.1943.70132
2125Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’36.6364.14328
2222Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’37.3424.84930
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’37.7015.20835
2411Paul di RestaForce India-MercedesNo time2

2012 Japanese Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    58 comments on “Webber fastest in eventful second practice”

    1. Webber back in form? Alonso is not bad but usual place is not enough for the title…

      1. Sounds like you’re as worried as I am.

        It’s looking less and less likely as each race passes. But he and the team have been great thus far! Proud of them for that.

        1. @ella Alonso has done exceptional job until now so I really hope he wins the title. but for that, Ferrari should help him.

          1. @eggry I’ve said it since the start of the year, and I’ve been often ridiculed for this – but I dont think Alonso will be champion. I think the car disadvantage will be too much for his consistency advantage to overcome. Shame really, he’s made close to no mistakes all year.

            I think maybe next year it might be his year – but I’ve maintained since Day 1 that I don’t think anyone will see Vettel out of the 2012 title.

            1. Yep. Unfortunately, I agree with everything said here.

              Alonso has been phenomenal but there’s only so much you can do in a car that is that far off the front-runners. It’s not astronomical, but it’s more than enough.

            2. @raymondu999

              As much as I hate to admit it, you are right..Alonso will not win unless he wins another race, which at this point, doesnt look like happening. Ferrari wont make the car go quicker based on the fact that their most recent updates havent really worked. Red Bull and McL are miles ahead on pace, and if nothing extraordinary happens, and the weather holds, Alonso would be extremely lucky to finish 4th, a podium will be unbelieveable. I pick Seb to win this weekend.

            3. @jaymenon10 @raymondu999 . A wet race can definitely turn fortunes around for Fernando. But I agree.. a race win is definitely needed to seal the deal

            4. I’ve been saying the same thing to myself, trying to sound optimistic! One more race win should help Alonso, provided he keeps up his fantastic consistency. It’s a big ask overall, and I have to say I’m more worried of Hamilton/McLaren than Vettel/Red Bull.

            5. @todfod Are you sure? To be honest I’m not so sure. The Ferrari earlier in the season has been a wet weather king, along with the Sauber. In Malaysia that car was genuinely competitive. But as they’ve made their car kinder to the tyres – that seems to have gone away.

              Look at qualifying in Silverstone and Hockenheim. The top 3 grid of those two races were identical. Alonso, from two Red Bulls (in Silverstone Webber P2 Vettel P3, and in Hockenheim, vice versa) The Red Bulls stayed on track and did their business on track. Alonso pitted with something like 4 minutes to go, in both sessions.

              In Hockenheim, incidentally, Vettel was competitive for pole, even though he didn’t take on new tyres. Alonso took pole, but only by two tenths – despite Vettel making a big mistake at the hairpin.

              I think that the Ferrari isn’t super capable of holding tyre temperature in the wet to be honest – I think that trait’s gone since they made the car kinder to the tyres. I took that to mean that Alonso had to take on fresh rain tyres fresh from the tyre blankets, which have been heated up. And in the race, he’s not going to have the option of going to the pits for warm wet tyres whenever he likes.

      2. Webber’s good in high speed corners requiring commitment – he’s generally competitive at Spa and Silverstone, for example. As a general rule, the times when he falls back from Vettel are at circuits where it’s low speed and low grip, such as Singapore

        1. @raymondu999 Webber’s characteristics is well known as you said. It’s interesting he’s strong at Monaco while doesn’t like Singapore. also Suzuka is sort of his circuit but usually Vettel is superb here so it’s slightly unnoticed.

          1. Monaco is actually not too slippy-slidy for a street circuit – for a street circuit it’s relatively grippy. Singapore isn’t so much. Also Singapore is bumpier. This isn’t so obvious, but the bumps in Monaco are somewhat “smoother” – they’re like hills and mounds, while the ones in Singapore are like spikes.

            Indeed Suzuka is a very strong circuit for Vettel – I’d argue it’s the only fast (sweeping corners) circuit where Vettel is truly quicker than Webber – I’d argue Webber is quicker at Spa, Silverstone. Maybe not by much, but yeah…

          2. Mind you I still think Vettel will probably outqualify Webber here, knowing it’s Suzuka…

            1. Webber will be sent out on his final qualy lap ahead of Vettel so Vettel will know the time he has to beat unless they are being beaten by the McLs.

        2. I hope your theory is right and we get a Webber win this weekend. As an Alonso fan it is nerve racking seeing him defend the title in a non championship winning car.

          If Webber wins this weekend with Hamilton 2nd, Vettel 3rd and Alonso 4th, I’m pretty sure the Ferrari camp will be happy. Looks like another damage limitation weekend for Ferrari

          1. I’m sure he would salvage reasonable amount of points again but damage limitation means nothing when there’s no bounce back to come. That’s what I’m worried about.

            1. I’m pretty convinced that Ferrari have dropped the ball in terms of car development. Abandoning the rear wing and the wind tunnel as well as their protests against other teams makes it abvious that Ferrari can only settle for 3rd or 4th fastest car for the rest of the season.

              Fernando can still finish the season on top, if can lose less than 8 points a race to Hamilton and less than 5 points a race to Vettel. So a Webber, Kimi, Button or Perez victory is very welcome in the last few rounds

          2. @todfod to be fair I never said that Webber would win. I said he would be competitive. I still think he’ll finish behind Vettel. The key is – can he finish ahead of Alonso? Then Webber’s speed would be a curse, rather than a blessing, for Alonso.

      3. Ferrari have a problematic wind tunnel,so I think the correlation is not working as expected with there upgrades. This could be a reason of there competitiveness here. But its still FP2 so lets stay hopfull. ;)

        1. You mean their non-competitiveness here, surely? Ferrari didn’t really show competitiveness in this session.

          1. Yep sorry. I surely meant the non competitiveness of the car. :)

        2. Experts, settle down its only FP2

    2. Paul’s mistake cost him the entire session while Hulk does look competitive in the softs in his VJM05. The FI cars never suited that well in this track but it seems they are looking quite strong this year. I thought the Saubers to be more competitive here but I guess they were playing with there new upgrades. FP3 will show some clear evidence of that. Its sad for Kimi to have his session compromise with his KERS issue but that black & gold car can be a serious threat to the front.

    3. Petrov loosing the rear wing like that is crazy. I am curious to hear what caused such a failure.

      1. Caterham have previous in this. See Trulli in the 2010 Abu Dhabi GP. The rear wing then just fell off but it still was stuck on the car. This one just fell off completely.

    4. Now time to plug all the numbers and try to match it against a degradation and fuel model… will update on findings.

    5. Kind of wondering – much like the Sky commentators – why a red flag was pulled out almost instantaneously for Di Resta and when Schumacher had a near identical accident only yellow flags were used. Did I miss something?

      Mclaren and Redbull look quick. To be expected. Force India not too bad either! Hope they can pull it out in the race. Have no idea where Lotus and Ferrari are really…

      1. I hope Force India, Williams, Sauber and Lotus can fill up the points, while McLaren and Vettel step out the podium :P – would spice the championship up

        1. Lol, I must be the only one to think the championship is spicy enough. I feel like it’s an inevitability that Alonso will be overhauled. And quickly. :(

          But! In saying that, I would really love to see those teams do well – I kind of have soft spots for all of them, bar a few of their drivers…

          1. @ella lol I know what you mean. I’ve supported Vettel since he was karting, and I felt the 2011 title chase was VERY spicy too :P

            1. Haha, it definitely changes your perspective when the driver you support is the hunted rather than the hunter.

              Still though, what I would give for Alonso to be in the situation Vettel was in last year :P

    6. Did Button have a problem? He only completed 22 laps which is not so much, considering he had two sets of tyres available.

      It’s interesting how from the comments above it seems that Alonso’s fans are nervous whereas I feel that he will just qualify P5 and finish P3 again. Did Ferrari really look that uncompetitive? Three tenths off Hamilton and two off Vettel in FP2 is no cause for concern yet. In fact, since Spain we have only seen two somewhat uncompetitive outings from Ferrari: Hungary and Singapore, and he still finished 3rd in the latter.

      1. Did Button have a problem?

        Not that I know of. at the end of his final stitnt, his engineer said on the radio:

        “I think we’ve learned all we needed to do. We need to get out by the end of the session to complete the grid-launch.”

        It was 20 minutes before the end of the session. Maybe they checked everything, and everithing was fine. I think he used P/O/P, and he was the second to go out on the softs (first was Kobayashi), improving his time by 8 tenths.

        Now I dont want to get bashed for this, but maybe Button had no balance issues, so the car is ready for tomorrow, and any more lap would have been a waste of tyres, engine and gearbox lifetime.

        1. Well, since you don’t want to be bashed, I rest my case! If not, I would remind you that LONG-RUNS are a vital part of FP2!! No driver purposefully stay in the garage …. ehmmm except Kimi who refused to drive in the wet (cough-cough).

          BTW, read this to know why he did ten laps less than his teammate. http://en.espnf1.com/f1/motorsport/story/90737.html?CMP=chrome

          1. Well, there goes my wishful thinking :D

            And about the longruns, In this case I tought that Hamilton and Button were testing different fuelloads/tyres with the same setup. But clearly this isnt the case.

          2. Given recent reliabiility of the cars, maybe they are not keen to just keep going around and around. But in that case it should be Button pounding out laps not Hamilton. Button got to change his gearbox but Hamilton has not, unless it was on the fifth race in Singapore. So McLaren have to be wondering about it.

    7. As a Ferrari fan, this is very nerve-racking. I don’t even know how exactly we got up there in the championship.

      1. @kingshark What’s scary is that in a matter of 5-6 races Fernando took a nice lead over the other competitors, so it isn’t hard to believe that someone with a faster car cannot do the same.

        I’m sick of seeing Ferrari produce a sub par car for Fernando and counting on luck and misfortunes of others to win WDCs.

        1. My nails grow only for them to disappear again every race weekend!

          And absolutely agree @Todfod – this situation would be looking a whole lot better if Ferrari had a car that could actually win races. Yet another year has passed and they haven’t produced the goods.

          1. @Ella : They dont really need to win too many races. The car only needs to be capable of targeting the first 2 rows at each weekend. Unfortunately,they almost always have atleast 4,if not more,cars ahead of them on saturdays,making sundays even more difficult for them….

      2. This season of Alonso reminds me of his 2006 season. Very good in the first half (in 2006, it was a fast car, and brilliant driving; in 2012 it was rain, misfortune of others and brilliant driving).

        In the second half of the 2006 season, Renault became second fastest and Fernando didn’t win a race until Michael’s engine died in Japan. That Japan win remained the only win for Fernando in the second half and that sealed him the title.

        Fernando now needs just that. One more win and he will do it. That one win has to come in any of the six races. Other five, his consistency will be enough.

        As a Ferrari fan, I hope that win comes on Sunday. He took the title off Ferrari at Japan in 2006. And six years later, he will have won it for Ferrari at the same circuit!

    8. so what happend with Lotus “DDRS”?

      1. Apparently they’ve discarded it after failing to “switch it on” effectively. There goes Kimi’s hopes of winning the championship this season.

    9. Vettel’s fast lap was with soft tyres, wasn’t it?
      Someone said that he was on hard tyres.

      1. Everyone’s times were on soft tyres, to my knowledge.

      2. According to the FOM feed, it was on the primes.

        1. @Yobo01 @bag0 Vettel set a 1:33.961 on the primes, then moved to the softs and set his 1:32.836

        2. 14:48
          Here’s Vettel on the softs … and he goes quickest with a 1:32.836

          From ESPN F1’s commentary. I would guess the FOM made a mistake since I don’t know it is electronically detected. Otherwise Vettel is going to dominate this race.

          1. @dworsley Thanks for clearing that up. I did think it looked very impressive when I saw the results this morning!

    10. How many times in Free Practice sessions this year has MSC crashed the car?!?!

      1. Ehmm, sorry I don’t know. Maybe I am suffering from dementia just as MSC possibly has arthritis that limits his reaction time.

      2. @timi That’s what it’s there for, to explore the limits of the track and the car! ;)

        1. That’s true, and MS has usually recovered to have a better Sat or Sun, but one would think putting the right hand wheels on the grass is not the place to be exploring the limits. Grass is not a place to find the limits of adhesion to the track.

    11. @kingshark

      I don’t even know how exactly we got up there in the championship

      Courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 Team.

      1. I should laugh, but it’s kind of a sad ironic joke for McLaren fans… I’m just tired and disappointed of seeing McLaren fail.

    12. Again, not much to read into this session. The only thing that looks rather certain now is that Force India is competitive…for the 3rd race in a row. Maldonado almost a second off Senna’s pace, Sauber – average, Mercedes – average, Lotus – no one knows. It should be fun in the midfield on Sunday. :)

    13. Webber seemed pleased to be in chassis 03 for this weekend. I see RBR don’t publish the chassis’ used, as they did last year, so it’s impossible to say which chassis each driver has used where. Unless that information is available elsewhere? No idea why the team stopped including that in their press releases.

      1. i noticed he tweeted that before arriving at Suzuka, he definitely prefers no.3, everything time he gets a hand me down chassis, he seems to find form, we can only hope.

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