- Indian Grand Prix - FP2
Vettel top as Red Bull completes Friday dominanceLaurence Edmondson October 25, 2013
Sebastian Vettel continued his march towards his fourth world title at this weekend's Indian Grand Prix by topping both the first and second practice sessions ahead of team-mate Mark Webber.
On the soft compound tyres, Vettel was 0.289s faster than team-mate Mark Webber and 0.498s faster than his closest non-Red Bull competitor, Romain Grosjean. However, of greater significance to the race was the way the front-left soft tyres were degrading on longer runs. After three or four laps some teams were noticing a significant drop off in performance and the soft tyres looked very second-hand on their return to the pits. Although the track conditions should improve before the race, the high levels of degradation could make for some interesting strategies on Sunday. While Red Bull struggled with the soft tyres, Lotus and Ferrari seemed able to do much longer stints.
Whether it will mix things up enough to stop a sixth consecutive Vettel victory remains to be seen, but his Red Bull did show signs of weakness early in the session when a KERS problem slowed his progress slightly. Unlike the issue that prevented him from taking pole position in Japan, the KERS appeared to be quickly fixed and soon after he the best time of the session.
Over one lap, Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest but his Mercedes team was encouraged by his long-run pace. Fernando Alonso bounced back from his gearbox problems in FP1 to finish the session fifth fastest and within 0.708s of Vettel. Nico Rosberg was sixth fastest ahead of Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and the two McLarens of Sergio Perez and Jenson Button.
Outside the top ten, the midfield remains tightly packed with Daniel Ricciardo in 11th and Pastor Maldonado in 16th split by less than half a second, though Ricciardo was limited to just 17 laps.
Maldonado had a worrying moment in the final 30 minutes of the session when his Williams shed its right-front wheel nut at high speed. A similar thing happened during practice in Japan when the wheel came off completely, but this time the wheel stayed on the hub, but the friction and heat build up appeared to lead to a puncture. Maldonado was forced to park the car at the end of the pit lane, bringing out the yellow flags.
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1