F1 Winter Break
Mark Webber tops times in Suzuka Friday practice
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Oct 2012   |  8:03 am GMT  |  61 comments

Mark Webber set the fastest time in Friday’s second Free Practice session in the Red Bull, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, with Sebastian Vettel in third.

The times were close once again, indicating that this is set to be another close fight between McLaren and Red Bull in particular with Ferrari picking up the pieces and Force India looking pretty competitive again.

Lotus once again tried to run its additional drag reduction device on the rear wing, but had a few problems and have decided not to use it in qualifying and the race.

Technical director James Allison said, “We evaluated ‘The Device’ in the morning but were unable to make it switch effectively so we won’t be using it for the rest of the weekend.”

Ferrari managed to complete a full programme of evaluation with both cars, but sense that they lack a little pace in comparison with the two front running teams. Suzuka has similarities with Silvesrtone and the tyre choice of soft and hard is the same as at the British Grand Prix, which Alonso led until just before the finish. But the Spaniard thinks they are chasing it a bit this weekend, “It’s hard to say if we can be as competitive here as in Silverstone: that was three months ago and we don’t know exactly how our rivals’ cars have evolved compared to how much progress we have made. As for the small updates we have brought here, there’s not much to say.”

It was quite an eventful day with Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher both crashing at Spoon Curve; “I think I was already concentrating too much on the corner ahead of me and therefore had a wheel on the dirt and went off,” said Schumacher. Meanwhile Vitaly Petrov stopped near the end of the afternoon session without a rear wing.

Nico Rosberg was forced to change his engine between sessions after pulling off the circuit in the morning session.

Nico Hulkenberg, fending off questions about whether he is set to join Ferrari, managed to set the fourth fastest time in the afternoon session, keeping up Force India’s recent run of form.

His team mate Paul di Resta, however, missed most of the session after crashing early on, pushing too hard too early, as he later admitted.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has said this weekend that they chose Perez over Di Resta because of his age and because they feel he has more potential so it’s a tough weekend for Di Resta to move on mentally and the incident in FP1 was the last thing he needed.

Both Force India drivers are under examination by Ferrari this weekend, as is the incumbent Massa. Whitmarsh took Sergio Perez, despite Ferrari president Montezemolo saying he wasn’t ready, will Whitmarsh’s comments on Di Resta have any impact on Ferrari’s decision?

As predicted tyre management is going to be critical in the race, with the decision on two stops and three finely balanced. The higher temperatures will tend to cause the Pirelli’s a higher level of thermal degradation. On single lap pace, the soft tyre looked to be around 0.8s to 1sec faster than the hard.

And finally, Pirelli came up with a nice statistic to ponder: Suzuka is one of the most selective circuits of the year: since 2003, only drivers who are world champions have won.

JAPANESE GRAND PRIX, Suzuka, Free Practice 2

1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m32.493 34
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m32.707s + 0.214 32
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m32.836s + 0.343 37
4. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m32.987s + 0.494 30
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m33.093s + 0.600 28
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m33.107s + 0.614 35
7. Jenson Button McLaren 1m33.349s + 0.856 22
8. Bruno Senna Williams 1m33.499s + 1.006 35
9. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.614s + 1.121 32
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m33.750s + 1.257 13
11. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.866s + 1.373 19
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m33.903s + 1.410 36
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m33.9$3s + 1.490 33
14. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m34.291s + 1.798 12
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m34.300s + 1.807 33
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m34.863s + 2.370 32
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m35.080s + 2.587 34
18. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m35.711s + 3.218 41
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m35.870s + 3.377 37
20. Timo Glock Marussia 1m36.194s + 3.701 32
21. Charles Pic Marussia 1m36.636s + 4.143 28
22. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m37.342s + 4.849 30
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m37.701s + 5.208 35
24. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes No time 2

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Fernando couldn't be happier! 🙂

Not that I mind, hope MW can keep at the pointy end all weekend.

James, is it correct that apart for his wins at Monaco & Britain, MW hasn't been on the podium all year? Strange stat.



Mark, Sebastian is faster than you.


He also got a heck of a car after he signed the extension of his contract.

He got spanked by Red Bull so bad. They actually took him out of WC contention.


I noticed Kimi Raikkonen had to climb gingerly out of his car due to a KERS issue. This is the second time in 2 grand prix that a driver has had to do this. It just seems to be getting ridiculous. I thought the cars are grounded when they come into the pit lane.

James, is there any news on what happened to Senna in Singapore? I heard his engineer telling him he had to jump (literally jump) out of the car and that it was an emergency. I also heard that Senna was left with burns on his back. Was that a KERS issue?


Well, in the pitlane there's a couple of metal strips that touch the underside of the car to get rid of static electricity but I don´t know if that's enough to ground a faulty KERS.


If I recall, the KERS malfunction wasn't as serious as they thought and the car wasn't charged so the jumping was just a precaution. The burns were unrelated, and there was a part failure that allowed heated air from the engine compartment to ciculate behind the seat causing minor burns.


I read somewhere this was a wire loom issue, not KERS, Senna is ok, minor burns but pretty much healed up now as I understand from Senna via twitter. .


If Ferrari sign Hulkenberg or DiResta I really don't understand what they are doing.

Don't get me wrong, they are both very talented drivers, but why would they plump for one of these two when Perez was available and part of their own academy? Neither has any more experience than Perez and neither have been producing more impressive performances. Also, none of the three are currently good enough to "bother" Alonso.

James, any chance they were caught on the hop by the Perez/McLaren deal?


Did Hulkenberg just say "no" or did he spin a longer... um, "story" ??

And what did Luca '3-Car Monte' say when asked about a Plan B?

What - nobody asked him?

Well, there you have it - consistency in 'F1 journalism.'


James posted on his blog 2days back that in a test conducted by ferrai last year bianchi was .5 sec faster than perez.

And also looking at quali performance this year perez has been outqualified by kamui by

8-6 so far and also kamui is not so fast.So you can imagine how good perez is.

Also,2012 sauber is a very good car and very easy on tyre in comparison to other.And yes,I admire perez for his ability of looking after his tyre.


I read that somewhere but don't think it was you. Maybe Adam Cooper.


The only logical thing I can think is that Prrez might be a genuine threat to Fernando- which wouldn't have been a bad thing to have in my opinion & I just knew Mclaren would pick him if Ferrari didn't !!


The only logical thing I can think is that Prrez might be a genuine threat to Fernando- which wouldn't have been a bad thing to have in my opinion & I just knew Mclareb would pick him if Ferrari didn't !!


Why bring Perez in for a year? Vettels there in 2014. Alonso is brilliant. Let Perez get mileage at the pointy end, Alonso retires, we have 'the finger' and Perez in red when that happens....


Alonso does not want a competitive teammate in an equal car, his ego and the hype cannot cope with the reality of being beaten by a teamamte.

The 3 guys you mentioned could well all fall into that category, they want a compliant patsy down at Maranello, but a more consistent one than Felipe.


Dude, Alonso beats guys like Lewis, Seb and others in an inferior car. Just look at the results.


They want Vettel for 2014 so no point in getting someone as talented as Perez only for a year. Most likely he'll go there once Alonso leaves.

Wilma the Great

Seb has a contract until the end of 2014. I wonder why hiring someone talented for a 2-year-period makes no sense. If that someone develops into a championship driver, they would have one more option in 2015 besides Vettel and on top of that they'd probably look a lot better in the WCC during those years.


Vettel's contract ends at the end of 2013 which is next year, so they need a driver for just one year only.

Vettel's signed pre-contract with Ferrari is for 2014 so no point in signing someone like PDR or Hulk for one year as it could wreck their career.


+1 love logical thinking!


In the same time, the Force India is not as good as the Sauber..


+1 and also they are two races more experienced 😉


Honestly, I think Alonso doesn't have real chances to become a Champ. Also now Stefano comes with excuses.


Unfortunatly cannot but agree.

They have to have known about the wind tunnel problems for some time. The reason they now choose to talk publically about it, have to be that they feel they will run into problems and need to have something to point at. Their (lack of) speed on high downforce tracks confirms they have problems.

Add to this that ALO himself was stating the other day (although I do not have the context), that "it would be a miracle if we win the title this year", and you get even more worried...

The 29 points advantage is really nothing if RB/Mclaren/Sauber/Lotus make full use of their advantage in the remaining races.

The only really positive way to look at it right now, is to remeber that ALO (skill + helping circumstances) have managed to put the car higher than deserved speed-wise, more or less all season...so anything possible from now one.

PS. He is already a two time "Champ" 😉


Let's just wait and see : )


You need a car........and recently Ferrari is about 0.6 off in qualifying and a bit less in the race


Yes, tank. Fernando brings 6 tenths. The Ferrari is 1.2 secs of the pace of car on pole. Felipe proves it 🙂


tank, exactly....that is why Massa is 1.5 sec off the pace.


But Alonso brings 6 tenths, so...


I agree with Martin Whitmarsh - on paper. You can't ignore Perez's podiums and front running pace. PDR just hasn't had the car underneath him to show that.

I would clarify the term "potential". Potential to bring a telco sponsor to replace Vodafone? Perez has that in spades.


Sort of a sad comment about Di Resta. At 26 already considered too old vs Perez... I wonder where F1 is going. Maybe soon all the new drivers will be 18 and retired at 28.


I wouldn't be too concerned about rear wing on Kimi's Lotus but concentrate on that bloody KERS!!!!, what is wrong with you guys? how many times do you tolerate the same bloody problem, no wonder Kimi is non commital about 2013.


How long before RB management start to make those small, tweaky adjustments that will give one driver the best chance at the best strategy ......and another driver the best chance at the second-best strategy.

As Seb is fond of saying, 'we'll see'


That might have happened ever since Webber signed next years contract as his run has been rubbish since.



Vettel will get Webbers setup for sure and then Webber will become the tyre data supplier for Vettel during the race as usual.


I am beginning to feel sorry for The Kaiser -- as he has become more and more like Michael Crashmacher. What now for the great man?


Oh for god's sake lay off him, every driver crashes, Michael throughout his career has had offs mostly in practice sessions.

Now doubt you felt sorry for Hamilton when When he was constantly putting it in the wall last year


the great man will retire and enjoy his life and look back and be proud,how fast would the current drivers be when they are 43? michael was at his best when f1 had proper racing with refueling, one type of tyre no DRS or KERS rubbish,were the driver counted alot more.not messing around nursing a car round saving tyres and fuel.


If the first 5 positions in FP2 remain the same for qualy (possible) we then have Hulk 1 place in front of Alonso (his team-mate) next tear?




James ,

" Suzuka is one of the most selective circuits of the year: since 2003, only drivers who are world champions have won. "

We can say that now.

But Kimi won at Suzuka in 2005 and became WDC in 2007. He was not a world champion when he won this race.


It doesn't say that they were champions when they won, only that since 2003 the Suzuka winners list also happens to contain exclusively world champions


Actually the list is actually quite impressive! Going back to 1992, Patrese and Rubens are the only 2 drivers never to have won a WDC to win the Japanese GP in the past 20 years!


Why stop there? 🙂

Go all the way back to Suzuka's first year in 1987 and it's only Gerhard Berger (2 wins) to add to that list.


Although I'd like to see Jenson win from the penalty and destroy Lewis, or watch SCH pull out a victory... I'm going to cheer for MW and put an end to only champions winning at Suzuka for the past 10 years )


I see that as coding for Mark for WDC 😉


James, any thoughts on how Ferrari can have wind tunnel problems 3 years in a row? It seems a bit ridiculous to me that they are now saying their wind tunnel is wrong... again. I thought that was last years excuse, and the year before it was not having a big enough wind tunnel.


It seems to be a problem for them, if posative changes made from wind tunnel data aren't reflected in track performance what else can you blame?


It' going to be agonic for them at this rate. Alonso needs to hang in there, keep his head cool picking up 3rd and 4th until the situation arises to get another win, and then grab it!


He'll be praying for rain, because at the moment that is the only chance he has of getting a win, as these are the only conditions where the F2012 has a significant performance advantage over the rest of the field. We have had only one wet race this season, so Formula One is due another. Remember we have Korea and Brazil still to come, so we will hopefully get a damp race to mix the order up a bit and give the performance advantage Alonso needs.


I guess they decided it ain't working right so it needs a rebuild, to improve in areas it wasn't doing such a good job.


The Lotus device saga is becoming very farcical. Have they actually got a device at all?

If they do, is there a reason not to use sunday's race as an extended test of this strange mysterious thingumy on Grosjean's car? I'm just wondering if there are any rules to prevent this ??

Surely Gros would benefit as much as Kimi in the races to come



Did Vettel set his time on hard in P2?


I noticed that as well. If the delta between option and prime is up to 1 second then that's very strong pace from Vettel.


vettle did his best time on soft,webber was fast he may get pole if vettel doesnt sort the balance of his car out.webber is the dark horse this weekend

Edouard Valentino

Looking forward to what will hopefuly be a close fight between Redbull and McLaren. Stint management should be key in terms of filtering back into traffic. If I remember correctly Button timed his second stop to perfection last year and jumped Seb.

How hard is Suzuka on engine and gearbox usage?


Every time I see times from a practice session the thing that stands out is the difference between Fernando's and Felipe's times.

I have been doing this the whole season and it amazes me that every time the difference is 5-6 tenths. Felipe does his best and ends up 5-6 tenths slower than Fernando.

I actually love the theory that Fernando brings 6 tenths to the team and numbers prove the theory right 🙂


Hello James, what were the fastest cars over a stint, and which teams suffered the least degradation (i.e was it Sauber and Lotus as initially predicted)


"On single lap pace, the soft tyre looked to be around 0.8s to 1sec faster than the hard."

Worth trying for a second stint on new options, then ?

(For those who can.)



Do you think Lotus experimenting with the double DRS is hurting their title bid? Their pace since the summer break perhaps hasn't been as great as it was beforehand when they were looking the team to beat. Maybe spending valuable practice time testing something that they keep deciding not to race with is compromising their weekends?

Tornillo Amarillo

Pole Hamilton

1st. Hamilton

2nd Webber

3rd Rosberg

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