Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel tops second Italian GP practice

By Gareth Llewellyn
sebastien vettel
(Photo: PH-Stop)

sebastien vettel

MONZA – Sebastian Vettel got the better of McLaren in second practice for the Italian Grand Prix after Jenson Button topped the opening session.

The Red Bull driver set the quickest time of the weekend with a 1:22.839, but was just 0.076s quicker than Fernando Alonso, and two-tenths quicker than Felipe Massa in the sister Ferrari.

“It was quite good today,” said Vettel. “It’s a Friday, so the lap times vary and you don’t know what the fuel loads are, but I’m quite confident. It looks better for us here than it did a year ago. Obviously there is no KERS this year, which helps us. We need to be patient and we’ll see the true pace tomorrow.

“McLaren is extremely quick and their cars went off a couple of times, so I don’t know if they had a clean afternoon. Ferrari was quick in the afternoon too, it will be tight. It’s a short lap here with a lot of short straights and not so many corners – the gap between cars will be very small.”

McLaren had set the early pace in the session, but had to settle for fourth and fifth place with Lewis Hamilton lapping his MP4-25 in 1:23.154 compared to his team-mate’s 1:23.210 as the British team varied their aero set-ups and removed the F-duct.

“Both configurations were quick, so we’re not in a bad position,” said McLaren’s Hamilton. “The two different packages felt fairly similar – one is slower down the straights but quicker through the corners, and the other is quicker down the straights but slower through the corners – and they pretty much balance themselves out over the course of a lap.

“As I say, we haven’t yet decided what to run tomorrow; it’s about determining which is better on high fuel, and whether there’s more potential in one over the other. We’ll decide this evening.”

Mark Webber was sixth in the second RB6 with a 1:23.415 before coming to a stop in the Lesmos as mechanical gremlins kicked in and the Australian lost water pressure.

“The car is going pretty well,” said Webber. “I have to find a little bit of lap time myself, but the car is performing and I’m quite happy. We’ll see how we go tomorrow, but we’re in the ballpark which is nice. Ferrari look strong as well.”

Rubens Barrichello, who himself had a gearbox problem in the first session, lapped an impressive seventh-quickest for Williams with a 1:23.708, just ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica by one thousandth of a second, and team-mate Nico Hülkenberg with Nico Rosberg’s best time a 1:23.857.

Adrian Sutil—who had been replaced by Force India test driver Paul Di Resta in the morning session—and team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi were evenly matched with a 1:24.181 and 1:24.380 respectively, while Renault rookie Vitaly Petrov got the better of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher by four hundredths of a second.

Lotus were the best of the new teams as Jarno Trulli lapped 19th quickest with a 1:26.204 ahead of team-mate Heikki Kovalainen’s 1:26.306. Virgin Racing pair Lucas Di Grassi and Timo Glock were just three-tenths slower.

Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes said: “We started out with a bit of pressure, having to make some changes early on in the session, but that’s what we’re about – trying something and not being afraid to do so. This afternoon we ran a good number of laps and generated a lot of useful data, and as both drivers were happy with the car it’s been a good day.”

Sakon Yamamoto was the quickest of the Hispania Racing drivers with a very slow 1:29.498, as team-mate Bruno Senna again suffered mechanical problems.

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