Vettel on top as Red Bull rules roost in India
26 October 2012 – Sebastian Vettel again topped practice as track action continued in India on Friday. Ahead of Mark Webber, the championship leader was sixth tenths of a second faster than third placed Fernando Alonso. Nico Rosberg and Kimi Räikkönen made the top five, with the McLarens carrying heavier fuel loads en route to sixth and seventh places.
In the opening 90-minute period this morning, one of the challenges had been the dusty track surface which has become a customary challenge to deal with at the Buddh International Circuit.
This afternoon, drivers had other issues to solve. Sergio Pérez and Heikki Kovalainen both headed into their first session of the day, with the former having to catch up after missing the first – due to illness - and the latter suffering a dysfunctional brake pedal.
For a while, there was hope for Red Bull’s rivals as the likes of Alonso and McLaren seemed able to threaten for the top spot, even though this was only practice. As soon as the Soft compound tyres were wheeled out, the blue cars again stamped their authority on the field, with Vettel posing a huge threat with his best effort of 1:26.221.
McLaren had more fuel on-board than most, although the exact lap time deficit will not be known until qualifying. Hamilton was trying brand-new Research and Development parts but, as he is switching to the Mercedes works team next season, the 2008 World Champion was not allowed to know all details about the components he was running.
Track conditions and the Red Bull speed are forcing others to push harder and sometimes hit trouble. That was the case for Felipe Massa, who endured two spins – one of which came at the Turn 6-7 chicane, where the kerbs now carrying his name after last year’s incidents. The Brazilian spent some of the period in the garage as Ferrari investigated car problems.
Back on-track, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna also experienced spins.
At the tail end of the field, Caterham led the three-team battle from Pedro de la Rosa’s HRT, with Narain Karthikeyan finishing his day 23rd as the local hero in Greater Noida.
Third free practice commences at 11am local time (BST +4:30) on Saturday and can also be tracked through the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report