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Sebastian Vettel continued to be the man to beat in India, as he followed up his incredible performance at the Buddh International Circuilt last season where he picked up the triple crown, with twin timesheet topping performances in FP1 and FP2 on Friday. Having set a time of 1:27.619 to top the charts in the morning, Vettel set the pace again in FP2, posting an excellent 1:26.221 second lap on the soft tyres in the afternoon. Red Bull made it a perfect day for them with Mark Webber almost matching the double world champion for pace, setting an excellent 1:26.339 second lap himself. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who is 6 points behind Vettel in the race for the drivers' championship, was third quickest, but a massive 0.599 seconds behind.
Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen were fourth and fifth quickest, but neither driver managed to break into the 1:26s. Rosberg shared though that his position on the timesheets may not necessarily be realistic of his potential qualifying pace. The McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were 6th and 7th, with virtually nothing separating the duo in terms of pace. Nico Hulkenberg gave the home fans something to cheer by setting the eighth fastest time in the Force India.
Michael Schumacher, who was 8th quickest in the morning, fell back to 13th in the afternoon after struggling to put together a clean traffic-less lap on the soft-tyres, while Felipe Massa had a trouble filled drive as he made two excursions off the track and complained about the balance of his car just not feeling right. Having ruined both a set of hard and soft tyres, Ferrari relegated the veteran Brazilian to practicing starts, his best time only being good enough for 15th fastest.
Here is how FP2 unfolded...
The drivers wasted little time in FP2 as they made the most of the 90 minutes they had on track, collecting as much data and getting as many laps under their cars as possible. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were in the thick of the action right from the start, trading fastest laps, with all three men going just a tad quicker than they did in the morning session.
With the entire first session having been run on the hard tyres, it was always going to be interesting to see how much the times would vary once the drivers finally moved onto Pirelli's soft tyres, and Russian Vitaly Petrov was the first man to make the move, midway into the second session. He improved his lap time in the Caterham car by about seven-tenths of a second.
Vettel led the timesheets midway through the session with his time of 1:27.256 putting him comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. Both Alonso and Hamilton were also in the 1:27s, while the rest of the field was playing catch-up.
Bruno Senna, in the Williams, had sat out of the morning session, but was quick to make up for lost time, posting a quick 1:27.946 lap to go fourth fastest provisionally.
The Lotus drivers - Kimi Raikkonen and the accident prone Romain Grosjean - had failed to create much of an impression in the morning, but both men found some form in the second half of the FP2 with the move to softs doing them plenty of good. The Lotus men sandwiched the Red Bull of Vettel with Raikkonen going to the top of the charts with a 1:27.030 lap.
Raikkonen's time at the top was brief though with Nico Rosberg displacing the former world champion by going eight-thousandths of a second quicker. Vettel and Alonso though quickly returned a sense of normalcy to proceedings by breaking the 1:27s barrier for the first time today when they ventured out on the soft yellow tyres.
Mark Webber joined the party by posting a 1:26.339s lap to take top spot briefly, only to be immediately knocked back a place by Vettel, who was 0.118s quicker.
The drivers came in for a breather before going out again for the last 20 minutes on what looked like race fuel loads as they attempted to test their race pace on the soft tyres, having already attempted to do their race simulations on the hard tyres in FP1.
That meant that there was no change at the top of the timesheets with the two Red Bulls looking impervious at the top with Fernando Alonso leading the chasing pack, over half-a-second behind. The McLarens were happy with their time on the long runs, even if their one lap pace is not yet quite up to speed, and they are likely to be strong challengers on Sunday.
Top 10: Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Button, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Senna.
Photograph by Clive Mason/Getty Images:
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