Today’s first day of running in India was very interesting with stable weather conditions and no stoppages meaning that everybody was able to learn a lot about how their cars perform in single lap pace and race pace.
In the afternoon the Red Bulls had the edge on single lap pace, almost 6/10ths of a second ahead of the Ferrari, although some caution is needed in assessing the times, because Sebastian Vettel set his fastest time on the third lap on soft tyres, while Fernando Alonso’s time came after the tyres had done six laps. The teams used the opportunity to simulate qualifying at the same time of day as they will qualify on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Bull looked very easy to drive on low fuel, with lots of traction out of low speed corners, while the Ferrari looked the opposite. The car was a real handful for both drivers, with Massa spinning off the circuit twice and Alonso having a few “moments”.
But the Ferrari looked much better with high fuel. McLaren also looked good in race trim, but might perhaps be a little disappointed with the pace they showed on the single lap. But they have time to work on that for tomorrow.
Later on in the session, on the high fuel runs, the leading contenders were very well matched on race pace with Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Lotus lapping consistently in the 1m 32s and high 1m 31s.
It is a vital race from the point of view of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso, who must react to the recent run of three wins by Vettel. The German has never won four races in a row and Ferrari’s goal must be to keep that tradition.
Ferrari has brought a new front wing endplate, new brake ducts and a new diffuser to India, while the Red Bull has only a couple of detail changes, according to the boss Christian Horner.
This morning in free practice, Esteban Gutierrez got his chance to drive the Sauber as Sergio Perez sat out the session due to the aftermath of a cold. Gutierrez managed to do 29 laps, some 150 kilometres, with one notable moment where he almost went off.
[More to follow]
INDIAN GRAND PRIX, Free Practice 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m26.221 35
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m26.339s + 0.118 33
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.820s + 0.599 34
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m27.022s + 0.801 38
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m27.030s + 0.809 40
6. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m27.131s + 0.910 38
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m27.182s + 0.961 24
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m27.233s + 1.012 37
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m27.397s + 1.176 36
10. Bruno Senna Williams 1m27.738s + 1.517 36
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m28.004s + 1.783 32
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m28.178s + 1.957 39
13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m28.222s + 2.001 37
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m28.239s + 2.018 37
15. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m28.296s + 2.075 23
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m28.455s + 2.234 40
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m28.596s + 2.375 38
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m29.167s + 2.946 35
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m29.320s + 3.099 43
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m29.606s + 3.385 22
21. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m30.950s + 4.729 37
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m31.113s + 4.892 35
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m31.372s + 5.151 20
24. Charles Pic Marussia 1m31.493s + 5.272 31