Vettel fastest again as Mercedes hit trouble

2013 Australian Grand Prix second practice

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2013Sebastian Vettel stayed on top of the times in the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.

It was a one-two for Red Bull with Mark Webber second ahead of Nico Rosberg. But both Mercedes drivers came to a stop in the final minutes of the session.

Having set the pace in first practice, Vettel returned to the top of the times in short order as the second session began.

A lap of 1’26.274 put him comfortably ahead, with Lewis Hamilton half a second down.

Williams and Toro Rosso were the first team to sample the super-soft rubber early in the session, finding around a second in lap time but remaining in the midfield.

Fernando Alonso’s first effort on the red-coloured rubber left him the best part of half a second of Vettel’s mark on the medium tyres.

It was Mark Webber who eventually took the best time off his team mate. Vettel set out to respond and set a quicker time in the first two sectors before having to back off when he caught Pastor Maldonado.

Vettel eventually produced a 1’25.908, taking the fastest time off his team mate by over a quarter of a second. Shortly afterwards he reported a KERS problem on his car.

Hamilton looked like he might threaten Vettel’s time after a quick run through the first sector on super-softs. But he locked his brakes on the bumpy run into turn nine and took to the run-off area. His subsequent lap on now rather worn super-softs was only four thousandths of a second faster than his medium-tyre effort had been.

Giedo van der Garde was at the bottom of the times for the second session running. The Caterham driver ran wide at turn three early in the session and got stuck in the gravel trap, ending his session.

He was in good company as Hamilton’s session ended in a similar way, the Mercedes driver stopping at turn eight with six minutes to go. “I’m in the gravel, something’s wrong with the car,” he reported.

Moments later his team mate joined him as Mercedes told Rosberg to stop due to a gearbox problem. A hectic end to the session also saw Webber spin at turn 13 but he kept his car out of the barriers.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’25.908 33
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’26.172 0.264 31
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’26.322 0.414 26
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’26.361 0.453 38
5 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’26.680 0.772 32
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’26.748 0.840 35
7 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’26.772 0.864 28
8 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’26.855 0.947 32
9 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’27.435 1.527 35
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’28.187 2.279 34
11 5 Jenson Button McLaren 1’28.294 2.386 30
12 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’28.311 2.403 37
13 6 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’28.566 2.658 33
14 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’28.627 2.719 31
15 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’28.772 2.864 33
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’28.852 2.944 36
17 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’28.968 3.060 36
18 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’29.386 3.478 39
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’29.696 3.788 32
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’30.165 4.257 37
21 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’30.600 4.692 36
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’32.450 6.542 11

2013 Australian Grand Prix

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125 comments on Vettel fastest again as Mercedes hit trouble

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  1. mags (@mags) said on 15th March 2013, 7:04

    And so it begins…

    • erix said on 15th March 2013, 9:16

      So gonna laugh because of Red Bull pace, but Lotus seems to be the easiest car to handle.

    • erox said on 15th March 2013, 13:52

      sandbagging is when you have 2 fast laps in a single supersoft :)
      7 K. RAIKKONEN
      13 P 7:59.315
      14 1:45.657
      15 1:26.361
      16 1:42.967
      17 1:26.683
      18 P 8:20.348

    • Another normal F1 season, no 2012 start up hick ups, the pecking order is pretty much set, some teams don’t know what they did wrong. Red Bull will win easily as they follow the end of 2012 and no one seems to be able of innovating beyond them or copy them as they wished. It’s like as soon as you see the massive rake on Vettel’s car you know that he is on his zone, and as tyres seem to be easy to understand impossible to keep, good teams will handle it much better. I don’t want to be a pessimist but 2 FP’s have already killed all the hype, Brazil continuation from now on but, without Mclaren, they pulled a F12.

  2. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 15th March 2013, 7:04

    Damn, Red Bull… :-/

  3. Kodongo (@kodongo) said on 15th March 2013, 7:06

    Schumacher sat at home thinking “Welcome to Mercedes, Lewis” …

  4. John H (@john-h) said on 15th March 2013, 7:08

    McLaren over 2 seconds off the pace. Sandbagging in testing then eh? Perhaps they left them in the car by mistake.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 15th March 2013, 7:17

      It seems they are looking where they stuck them to take them out but can’t remember where they are. The only light point is that their pace in the lower fuel race runs at the end are comparatively solid.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 15th March 2013, 7:24

        Maybe taking off a bit of rear wing would help (see what Kravitz showed in comparison to RBR)

      • John H (@john-h) said on 15th March 2013, 7:26

        Yes, I think 1 second down is probably about where they are. McLaren are making some strange decisions. I mean, with such a rule overhaul in 2014 why have they gone down this route instead of building on a (very) good car from last year? Now they are going to compromise their 2014 programme as well. Easy in hindsight but to be honest entirely predictable. Ron Dennis must be tearing his last remaining hairs out.

        • Tyler (@tdog) said on 15th March 2013, 8:09

          with such a rule overhaul in 2014 why have they gone down this route instead of building on a (very) good car from last year?

          Actually, with the new engines next year, it seems to make sense to me that you’d make your significant chassis changes this year (eg. pullrod front suspension) and concentrate on integrating the new drivetrain changes next year.

          Besides, it’s the first day of the first grand prix, it’s way too early to say whether their design decisions are a mistake. McLaren always expected it would take some time to understand the car, but the hope is that it will give them greater scope for improvement through to the end of the season.

        • David not Coulthard (@) said on 15th March 2013, 8:24

          why have they gone down this route instead of building on a (very) good car from last year?

          According to mcLaren, because they can’t.

          • Knotty said on 15th March 2013, 10:23

            i think mclaren will find their sweet spot with their setup and challenge to the top again as the season continues… i think in brazil, they already have found that and start to fight. :-)

        • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 15th March 2013, 10:14

          Remember last year ferrari had a dog of the car to start with and even struggling to make it to Q1 but with upgrades they made it fight for championship.Mclaren trying to understand the car as its quiet different from last year and definitely have more development potential later in the season ,we have seen just 2 practice sessions to pass our judgement.It it will probably take two or three races before we see a pattern emerge.

    • Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 15th March 2013, 9:57

      Ferrari paid the price to develop pull rod front end and get it working, now McLaren are paying theirs.

      • Nomore (@nomore) said on 15th March 2013, 10:31

        The pull rod will be important in 2014 with the weight of the cars due to v6 turbo. Ferrari started in 2012, Mclaren in 2013…they both will be rewarded in 2014, maybe Ferrari a little bit more with one year plus on experience.

      • John H (@john-h) said on 16th March 2013, 0:06

        Sounds like rubbish to me. Get the pull-rod on the car in 2014 and work from there. The weight distribution from the V6 + drive-train will be completely different…. The 2013 push-rod teams might even have an advantage going into next year. I’m getting frustrated with my favourite team. Whitmarsh is having a nightmare and hiring people like Sam Michael and saying goodbye to Hamilton does not fill me with confidence. Mclaren will get what they deserve.

  5. smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 15th March 2013, 7:09

    Merc looks too good to be true,they may have some reliability issues at the end of the session but mercs got some raw pace.Just wondering had lewis not spun off when he on supersoft he may have set the fastest time in FP2

  6. Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 15th March 2013, 7:10

    RedBull with the clear lead but I am happy that Merc appear to not be too far behind. Still a little hard to judge but P3 will reveal the 1 lap pace we are to expect.

    Pray that McLaren will have good race pace or be very kind on their tires or they will be mixing it up in the midfield!!!

    Sutil with a strong start. Di Resta can moan all he wants about missing out on a top team seat but he needs to first master his seat in the midfield. I hope Sutil spanks him this year to give him a pinch of reality

  7. Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 15th March 2013, 7:11

    It shows that the grid is not as close as we’re expected. It’s not like 2012, it’s more like 2007 or 2008 when just 3-4 teams really could perform well. This year, Red Bull and Ferrari absolutely are gonna make the battle last until last race. Mercedes and Lotus will be fast at start but a bit lost in the end of the year. Mercedes form is pretty similar as last year at least at this point. fast but unreliable.
    I predict McLaren will struggle until their first heavy development part come in Europe. It’s a bit similar case as F2012.
    I have to revise my prediction for the race heavily as Red Bull able to pull out again. I hope it’s not gonna be like 2011 again.

  8. Jonny C (@loomx92) said on 15th March 2013, 7:11

    Hmm, looks like I might have to change my predictions for the weekend. Red Bull are looking very strong (why am I surprised), but I’m shocked at how far down the McLaren’s are. Looks like they’ll be hunting for points but not podiums for the first few fly-aways. Also, shame for HAM messing up his quick lap, would’ve be nice to see where he’d come, but a strong lap from ROS proving Merc’s improvement, looks like it was a good swap for HAM at the moment given McLaren’s pace, although it’s way too early to say indefinably.

    All in all, looks like an interesting weekend coming up. But for me, I’m so glad I don’t work cause I’m off to bed now. Same again tomorrow night. God I love Australia :P

    • Ean (@ean) said on 15th March 2013, 7:29

      Vettel backed of on his fastest lap and set a better lap than Hamilton on his second , Hamilton’s second was much slower

      • Jonny C (@loomx92) said on 15th March 2013, 7:34

        Yeah I was watching the live timing page. Jaw dropped when Seb hit those two purple sectors. Just like like, ‘Oh ****, he’s not gonna do this again this season is he?’

        And yeah HAM’s lap was slower, but that was with half a lap and a flat spot taken out of the tires when they were running out consistently through the final sector after one flying lap.

  9. panache (@panache) said on 15th March 2013, 7:15

    It’s astounding that you get these reports up literally seconds after the end of the session. Good stuff.

    I think pretty much everyone would agree that Mercedes are in a better position than Mclaren at the moment despite their end of session woes. This also astounds me.

    Hopefully Mclaren’s pace isn’t as bad as it looks as their lap times on heavy fuel seem within a few tenths of the other top teams, but it seems they are lacking downforce at the moment and struggling to understand their new car concept. As a result they have reverted to 2012 spec front wing and turning vanes according to ScarbsF1:

  10. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 15th March 2013, 7:18

    I know it’s only Friday, but Sutil has looked much better than di Resta so far. His style hasn’t grained the tyres too badly, and he’s gotten better times.

    IMO he’s going to beat Di Resta pretty handily over the course of the season.

    Should be interesting.

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 15th March 2013, 7:21

      IMO he (Sutil) is going to beat Di Resta pretty handily over the course of the season.

      If that happens, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Di Resta’s F1 career is over.

    • Denis 68 said on 15th March 2013, 8:16

      Sutil has looked much better than Di Resta already.

      There’s a very simple explanation for this? It’s coz he’s faster it really is that simple. He will crucify Di Resta this season.

    • dkpioe said on 15th March 2013, 11:21

      Sutil is a great driver, always “the best of the rest after the top teams” kind of like kubica in 2010, best of the rest after the top 3 teams, sutil has always been best of the rest after the top 4 teams. he will prove that again this year, and maybe get a better seat next year.

  11. Quick Nick (@tasvat001) said on 15th March 2013, 7:23

    Man,what a sinking feeling when I read the lap times.What happened to ferrari?8 tenths off the pace,i honestly thought they would be close to the red bulls.The only hope is for the mercs to challenge them,but it doesn’t look good if you were hoping for 4 team qualifying battle.

  12. Roald (@roald) said on 15th March 2013, 7:26

    Watched the last 30 minutes, the McLaren looked terrible. Car was all over the place under braking, jumping up and down and just looking impossible to drive. Hoping Mercedes’ pace is real, let them get involved this year!

    • OOliver said on 15th March 2013, 7:44

      Mclaren have always had cars that jumped all over the place. For the past 6years, their cars always seemed to be the one finding all the bumps on the track. I believe they have a fast car, just that it is difficult to find the right setup.

  13. Starbuck (@starbuck) said on 15th March 2013, 7:31

    Looks like the season is over before it started :/ I really hope some teams were still bluffing but this looks like a walk in the (Albert) park for Vet Bull.

  14. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 15th March 2013, 7:35

    The Red Bull looks very planted, although the tyre degredation on Vettel’s heavy fuel run looked quite pronounced and there were others who we quicker. I think Red Bull will probably have the edge in qualifying due to their outright pace, but Lotus in particular look slightly better on race pace and tyre degredation. Mercedes and Ferrari are up there also, but the former has to be worrying with two failures at the end of the session…

    • Jonny C (@loomx92) said on 15th March 2013, 7:44

      I’ve got my fingers crossed as well for the Lotus race pace, the Ferrari was close as well, but I wasn’t keeping track of the Merc’s long run times. Hopefully they can attack Red Bull more on race pace.

      I’m just wondering what the car’s are going to be like in (most probably) the wet tomorrow. Could give the grid a nice shake up and stop the Bulls having a chance to just run away with it.

    • Tyler (@tdog) said on 15th March 2013, 8:12

      Lotus in particular look slightly better on race pace and tyre degredation

      I can say that watching it live, the Lotus looked very very good, second only to the Red Bull. If they can bring last year’s characteristic of being kind to its tyres as well, Kimi in particular is in with a real shot on Sunday.

  15. Melchior (@melchior) said on 15th March 2013, 7:46

    Is it my imagination or do the cars seem to have more suspension travel or they seem a lot more “Supple”over the bumps etc?

    • panache (@panache) said on 15th March 2013, 9:02

      I noticed this too and also figured it was my imagination. Last season the Lotus had a noticably more supple suspension setup than most other cars but this year it looks like Mercedes and Ferrari at the very least are mimicing this characteristic.

      Mclaren are in complete contrast. Their cars have consistently looked very rigid on track in recent seasons. I remember the 2009 Mclaren driving round corners on three wheels until they updated it.

      This year seems no different for Mclaren. The car looked like a real handful over the bumps and kerbs in Melbourne this morning, the whole car visibly oscillating in places where others showed no signs of nervousness. Whitmarsh has acknowledged that the car has “poor ride” in the Team Principle Press Conference.

      We all know about the setup woes Button struggled with last year for almost 1/3rd of the season. At Canada, Mclaren were experimenting with different suspension configurations. Button used a different rear suspension to Hamilton and was two seconds off the pace whilst his teammate qualified on pole and won the race convincingly, so evidently suspension setup can have a huge impact on the performance of the car.

      It just baffles me that Mclaren are apparently still not on top of this after what happened with Button last season and to a lesser extent Hamilton.

      Perhaps someone who is technically astute can explain to me why a team with the heritage and success of Mclaren can struggle to configure the suspension of their cars suitably, because from my laymans perspective, I would assume that suspension setup is pretty much an exact science with known quantities, completely different from the likes of Aerodynamics which is much more nuanced.

      That being said, it’s evident that there is often a tradeoff between Aerodynamic and Mechanical concepts. For example see this highly insightful video from former Williams and Ferrari Design Engineer, Enrique Scalabroni:

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 15th March 2013, 9:52

        As with everything in F1, it’s a question of compromise. Teams want to minimise the weight of the car, and keep that weight as low as possible. But at the same time, the trend is for ever higher noses to get air under the car and get the floor working. Putting the nose higher means doing what you can to minimise the weight of the front suspension, and this is why McLaren have used this solution – a shock with less movement can be shorter. An F1 shock will fit in the palm of your hand. Pullrod systems also mean that the shocks can lay flat in the car, keeping the weight as low as possible. More suspension travel equals more weight, so this is the answer McLaren have come up with. It’s not wrong, it’s just different. Other teams have gone the other way, most likely in response to the challenges set by the tyres. Running a slightly higher tyre pressure, for instance, can help minimise heat buildup in the tyre, but it makes the tyre stiffer so you need a softer suspension setup. The McLaren can run lower tyre pressures, which may give more grip, but is likely to also lead to slightly higher tyre wear.

        Every part of the car is compromised in some way. A race car built without regulations, without compromises, would be a very different machine to an F1 car.

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