• Australian Grand Prix - FP2

Vettel fastest as Mercedes hits trouble

ESPN Staff
March 15, 2013

Sebastian Vettel set an impressive pace during the second free practice session of the Australian Grand Prix, while McLaren appeared to struggle once more.

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was second fastest, 0.264s off Vettel's 1:25.908, while Nico Rosberg set the third fastest time in the Mercedes. However, both Mercedes sessions ended early, Lewis Hamilton's in the gravel after running straight on at turn six and Rosberg's at the side of the track around the next corner after a gearbox issue.

Red Bull's morning wasn't 100% smooth either, with Vettel reporting a loss of KERS at one stage on his quickest lap and Webber spinning at turn 13 on worn medium tyres just after both Mercedes cars had stopped.

Lotus quietly went about its work and was impressive as Kimi Raikkonen finished the session fourth and team-mate Romain Grosjean fifth. Raikkonen's best time was within half a second of Vettel as the E21 shows promise of having better qualifying pace than its predecessor.

Fernando Alonso was sixth quickest but set his fastest lap on the super softs before most of the other frontrunners, while Hamilton actually ended the afternoon seventh but didn't complete a clean lap on the softer compound having run wide at turn nine on his flying lap.

It was a tough day for McLaren as Jenson Button was down in 11th and Sergio Perez 13th, with both cars over two seconds off the pace. Suggestions the team was hiding pace were dismissed by team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who admitted that the team is "undoubtedly struggling" and "should be worried about the pace".

Ahead of McLaren, Adrian Sutil impressed with the ninth quickest time which left him 0.9s quicker than team-mate Paul di Resta. There was also a strong performance from Jules Bianchi, getting within 0.3s of the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and comfortably beating Marussia team-mate Max Chilton.

Giedo van der Garde's session was a short one as he slid wide and beached his Caterham in the gravel after just 11 laps.

Lewis Hamilton waits for a lift after running off at Turn 6 © Sutton Images