Vettel top in Monza 2nd practice
FAST TALKING: Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel speaks to the news media after being fastest in second practice for the 2013 Italian F1 GP at Monza on Friday Sept 6. Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
Red Bull's Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel did his best to demoralise the tifosi at Monza on Friday as he and team mate Mark Webber dominated the afternoon's second practice session.
MONZA, Italy - Red Bull's Formula 1 championship leader Sebastian Vettel did his best to demoralise the ranks of Ferrari fans at their home circuit on Friday (Sept 6) with a show of speed during second practice for the 2013 Italian F1 GP.
The triple champion was a commanding 0.623sec quicker than second-placed team mate Mark Webber in afternoon sunshine at Monza with a fastest lap of 1min24.453.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Vettel’s closest championship rival with a huge 46-point gap to make up and eight races remaining, was fifth and 0.877 off the pace on the fastest track on the calendar.
'THINGS TO OPTIMISE'
Despite the strong showing, Vettel pointed to a much closer morning session and was cautious about the race at a power circuit which has been difficult for Red Bull in the past. "It will be very tight this weekend," he said, "as we saw in the first practice. It will be close on Saturday in qualifying with quite a few cars separated by only a few hundredths of a second.
"There are a few things we still need to do to optimise the car, there are two or three corners where we are sliding more than we would like. It's positive today but it's only Friday."
Lewis Hamilton, winner here in 2012, had put Mercedes on top in the morning session with Alonso recording a second-best lap only 0.035sec slower and Vettel fourth-fastest.
Hamilton, who will be chasing his fifth pole in a row on Saturday, howled around Monza's classic 'Pista Magica' in 1min25.565 on a sunny morning in the former royal park. He was sixth after lunch.
The Briton, booed by some of the passionate Ferrari 'tifosi' when he won for McLaren in 2012, had said on Thursday that he hoped they would be booing him again if it meant a return to the top step of the podium on Sunday.
The 2008 World champion certainly has a good chance as one of only three current drivers to have won at Monza, the final round of the European season, and his Mercedes looking increasingly competitive. Vettel and Alonso, the top two in the championship with Hamilton third, are the other past winners.
"The car feels pretty good here," Hamilton said. "The balance is reasonable and we've had a pretty smooth day, better than our recent Fridays."
Alonso might have gone quicker than Hamilton in the morning had he not run wide, kicking up a cloud of dust at the exit to the Parabolica on a fast lap with half an hour to go. Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg was third and seventh in the two sessions while former Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 champion now with Lotus, was fifth and third equal with the same afternoon time as team mate Romain Grosjean.
Raikkonen had his first retirement of the season at the previous race in Spa, Belgium, ending a 27-race scoring run and falling back to fourth in the championship behind Hamilton.
A banner on the start/finish grandstand, written in large red letters and positioned next to a Ferrari flag, declared 'Kimi in pole' in what looked like a throwback to 2007 when the Finn finished third at Monza for Ferrari. Raikkonen has a longer-wheelbase car for the race, the fastest on the calendar where 340km/h is possible, but has played down his chances.
McLAREN IN TOP 10
"It will be very difficult," he said. "The low-downforce circuits are probably not the strongest for us - 2012 was difficult and Spa then was quite tricky. It wasn't easy this year either."
McLaren, with Mexican Sergio Perez and Britain's Jenson Button, was in the top 10 in both sessions.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa, whose race seat is once again in the spotlight with endless speculation about who might replace the Brazilian in 2014, ended the afternoon eighth fastest.
Britain's James Calado made his GP track debut, the new Force India third driver taking over Adrian Sutil's car for the morning session before the German returned after lunch. Caterham and Marussia also ran reserve drivers, Finland's Heikki Kovalainen and Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Second free practice times from Monza
1 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min24.453
2 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min25.076
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min25.116
4 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min25.116
5 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min25.330
6 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min25.340
7 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min25.367
8 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min25.519
9 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min25.532
10 Sergio Perez (Mexico) McLaren 1min25.627
11 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min25.830
12 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber 1min25.888
13 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India 1min26.028
14 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min26.138
15 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min26.224
16 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Sauber 1min26.385
17 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min26.599
18 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min27.198
19 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 1min27.548
20. Charles Pic (France) Caterham 1min27.696
21 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 1min27.771
22 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia 1min28.057