Red Bull’s pace and Schumacher’s progress (Practice 2 interactive chart)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Did McLaren disguise their true pace in second practice?
Did McLaren disguise their true pace in second practice?

While other teams turned up with eye-catching performance upgrades, Red Bull got everyone’s attention by dominating the second practice session in Spain by eight tenths of a second.

Is that a true reflection of how much quicker the RB6 is than rival teams’ cars? Take a closer look at the times from second practice using the interactive chart below.

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Mark Webber downplayed Red Bull’s performance advantage on Friday evening:

Don?t read too much into the times; McLaren probably weren?t showing everything today.
Mark Webber

Webber probably picked out McLaren as the team to watch because, having topped the morning session, Lewis Hamilton didn’t improve his time in the second session, suggesting he had a bit of fuel in his tank when he did his soft tyre run in the afternoon.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were two seconds faster in the second than the first, and Michael Schumacher – third in both sessions – found one second between the two practice periods.

As ever, reading anything into practice times is tricky because we don’t know the fuel loads. Perhaps what’s truly significant here is not Red Bul’s speed over a single lap but the fact that they need to investigate that potential this early on a Grand Prix weekend.

Until now we’ve been used to seeing them avoid doing low-fuel runs until Saturday. Perhaps the progress teams like McLaren have made in this area has prompted Red Bull to shore up their defences in this crucial area of car performance.

At Mercedes, Schumacher beat team mate Nico Rosberg for the second session in a row – a further indication that the revised, longer W01 is to his liking.

Interestingly, towards the end of the session many of the top teams’ times are grouped together, suggesting fuel loads around the half-tank level. Unsurprisingly Sebastian Vettel looks the quickest but the pace of the Mercedes seems to be closer to the Ferrari here.

Remember, however, that the track was very busy at this point and we saw several drivers aborting laps due to traffic.

What’s your reading of the practice sessions so far this weekend? Who do you think has the fastest car? Have your say in the comments.

2010 Spanish Grand Prix

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