Red Bull fastest in the dry but rain expected tomorrow (FP2 analysis)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Red Bull cars filled the top two places in both of today’s practice sessions at Japan, confirming pre-race expectations that the RB6 would be the car to beat around sinuous Suzuka.

Rain has already begun to fall at the track and much more is expected tomorrow. Will Red Bull retain their advantage in more challenging conditions?

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Tick/untick drivers? names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom

Red Bull enjoyed a healthy performance margin over Ferrari today. Their qualifying pace, reflected in their best lap times in second practice, seems especially strong.

Reflecting the same pattern seen at other races this year, the two are closer on race pace. Zoom to the final 15 minutes on the interactive chart above to compare their lap times.

After his crash in first practice Lewis Hamilton managed only a few laps at the end of the second session and had to run with the old-specification rear wing. Jenson Button’s pace showed McLaren are in the mix with Ferrari but Red Bull are surely out of reach in dry conditions.

Robert Kubica cautioned against building up unrealistic hopes after finishing the second session third fastest, ahead of both Ferraris and McLarens. He’s not the only person in the paddock worried about what the weather will do:

We need to wait and see what the weather will bring us tomorrow and try to do our best in all conditions. The forecast is saying there will be quite a lot of rain, so it was important to do a lot of running today and complete all our evaluation ahead of the race, which looks like it might be dry. If it is wet tomorrow, then today will have been our only chance to drive on dry tyres before the race.
Robert Kubica

Rain began to fall at the track after second practice and is expected to stay throughout tomorrow.

Adrian Sutil was the only one of Force India’s driver to use the new floor on the car in first practice. By the second session both cars had the upgrade but Vitantonio Liuzzi still ended up 1.5 seconds off his team mate.

The gap between the two Williams drivers can be explained by the traffic Rubens Barrichello encountered. A look at the ultimate lap times before shows he was on team mate Nico H???lkenberg’s pace before a technical problem intervened.

Nico Rosberg had a gearbox problem in the first session and struggled with understeer in the second. He was 0.05s slower than Michael Schumacher – not much in terms of time but it left him three places behind.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Lap At time Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.465 20 69 32
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.395 15 60 29
3 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.200 0.735 18 63 32
4 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.362 0.897 21 67 34
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.519 1.054 16 55 35
6 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.068 15 62 28
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.238 12 42 32
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.831 1.366 13 58 27
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.377 11 51 26
10 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.851 1.386 13 67 26
11 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.880 1.415 11 62 26
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.006 19 69 31
13 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.016 5 91 8
14 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’33.564 2.099 10 30 16
15 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.697 2.232 19 65 33
16 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.540 16 53 32
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.055 2.590 15 47 37
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.310 2.845 19 59 33
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.095 4.630 22 63 37
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.868 20 68 33
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.165 20 77 28
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.834 5.369 4 24 28
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.352 5.887 18 58 33
24 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.831 6.366 19 59 34

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap added together.

Pos. Car Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best
1 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’31.431 0.034
2 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’31.860 0.429 0.000
3 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’32.110 0.679 0.090
4 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.165 0.734 0.197
5 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’32.503 1.072 0.016
6 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’32.533 1.102 0.000
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.703 1.272 0.000
8 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’32.768 1.337 0.083
9 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.797 1.366 0.083
10 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’32.826 1.395 0.005
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’32.842 1.411 0.000
12 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’32.995 1.564 0.569
13 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.471 2.040 0.000
14 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’33.481 2.050 0.000
15 22 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.552 2.121 0.145
16 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.005 2.574 0.000
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’34.018 2.587 0.037
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’34.029 2.598 0.281
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.034 4.603 0.061
20 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’36.333 4.902 0.000
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.630 5.199 0.000
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’36.664 5.233 0.170
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’37.241 5.810 0.111
24 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’37.668 6.237 0.163

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images