F1 China FP2 Results & Report: Vettel Quickest While Merc Power Speeds Up

What Happens When Things Close Up Again

3:38am EST — Sebastian Vettel was again fastest (1:37.688) in the second Friday practice session for the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, though Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were much closer, as were Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, who completed the fastest five. The smog had lessened somewhat, while the stories for the afternoon session revolved around who managed to get out of the garage. Paul di Resta was unable to post a lap, with a fuel pressure issue plaguing his Force India. Fernando Alonso was only fourteenth quickest after a hydraulic issue kept his Ferrari in the garage for a portion of the session. Meanwhile, it seemed that HRT managed to eclipse Virgin Racing for another Friday, with Tonio Liuzzi lapping more quickly on one hot lap than either Jerome D’Ambrosio or Timo Glock in their combined forty-seven laps.

Vettel continued his dominant season in the Friday morning session, with only teammate Webber within a second of his pace. Hamilton, Massa, and Heidfeld were the fastest five, despite a crash from Heidfeld on his six lap, and only the top fifteen were within two seconds of Vettel. It was a foggy/smoggy morning in Shanghai, and the circuit was dusty, but Vettel still stomped all over the early competition.

Quickly, D’Ambrosio, Kovalainen, Alguersuari, and others were out to begin the second practice session on Friday. Sixteen cars were on-track less than five minutes into the session, with Alguersuari the first to set a time: 1:44.604. The smog continued through the afternoon, though it had decreased in thickness slightly. Hamilton was quickest around six minutes in, only to be replaced at the top by teammate Button (1:40.207).

The top ten continued to shift as drivers set times early on, with Button leading Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa, Perez, Petrov, Maldonado, Schumacher, Alonso, and Heidfeld as the top ten, ten minutes into the ninety-minute session. Webber, Vettel, di Resta, Karthikeyan, and Liuzzi had yet to set a time, though both Red Bulls were on the track. Vettel was five and a half seconds off Button’s pace on his first timed lap, while Webber was seven seconds slower than the Briton. Both quickly improved their times, though not their positions. Meanwhile, Alonso was third fastest.

With most of the field in the garage, Rosberg was on a flying lap (1:38.912) to take the fastest position by a half second, twenty minutes into the session. He was still about two tenths slower than Vettel’s fastest time from earlier in the day. Maldonado went third fastest a few minutes later, splitting Button and Hamilton, with Alonso fifth fastest. Only di Resta and Liuzzi had yet to leave the garage, with the former stuck there due to a fuel pressure issue and unlikely to run this session.

Rosberg still led one third of the way through practice, followed by Button, Maldonado, Hamilton, Alonso, Heidfeld, Massa, Petrov, Sutil, and Schumacher as the top ten, with Mercedes bookends at the top and nearly two seconds slower. Soon, Massa was fastest (1:38.507) on the softer tires, gaining four tenths on Rosberg and going two tenths quicker than Vettel in the morning session. He looked to improve on his next lap, but was a tiny bit too slow to do so in the second sector.

Well back, Vettel and Webber were circulating slowly on the harder tires, putting together longer stints on them. Vettel was consistently quicker than his teammate, as Webber’s tires were degrading more quickly. On his own set of softer tires, Rosberg put together a quick lap (1:37.943) to move to the top spot, by a half second over Massa. Button was third fastest, nearly another second slower than the Brazilian.

Halfway through the afternoon practice, Rosberg led Massa, Button, Maldonado, and Hamilton as the fastest five. Just after that mark, Buemi leapt into sixth, with Alonso, Alguersuari, Heidfeld, and Kobayashi the top ten. Moments later, Heidfeld again slid off the track and through the gravel, having lost the rear through Turn 1. He managed to get out of the barrier and attempted to continue back around the circuit with a two-thirds mangled front wing. He soon pulled off the track onto a side portion and stopped the Renault near enough to the garages that the team came to rescue it, after climbing out and back in.

Meanwhile, “There is an hydraulic issue on Fernando’s car, which needs to be checked carefully so the mechanics are working on it,” according to Ferrari. He was seventh fastest, having posted times only on the harder tire. Webber’s first lap on the softer tire put him fourth fastest. Vettel was eighteenth fastest. Multiple drivers continued to slide off and on the track, kicking up impressive dust plumes, with Kobayashi a most dramatic version while improving his time to fifth fastest. Just after, Schumacher moved up from sixteenth to second fastest, just under two tenths off his teammate’s time, on the softer tire.

Rosberg still topped the timesheets with a half hour left of running on Friday, followed by Schumacher, Massa, Button, Webber, Kobayashi, Maldonado, Hamilton, Buemi, and Alonso as the top ten. Perez, down in thirteenth, was the first driver more than two seconds slower than Rosberg. Minutes later, Vettel was out on the softer tire and posting personal best times, as was Hamilton. Petrov snuck into fourth fastest, only to have Massa, then Vettel go faster. Instead, Button, then Hamilton put their Merecedes-powered McLarens ahead of the Mercedes GP team.

That new order had Hamilton leading Button by just .081s, with Rosberg another .008s slower than Button. However, Hamilton was informing the team that “the tires are finished.” He pitted the next time around. With twenty-five minutes remaining, Hamilton led Button, Rosberg, Schumacher, Vettel, Massa, Sutil, Petrov, Webber, and Kobayashi. The top seven were covered by less than a second.

Button and Vettel continued on, on the softer tires, with Vettel besting everyone’s time to post a 1:37.688, taking over a tenth off Hamilton’s time. Meanwhile, Heidfeld had returned to the track, having been dropped down near twentieth. His first lap back took him to eighth fastest. Alonso remained int eh garage, though Ferrari explained, “The mechanics are still working on Fernando’s car to try and fix the hydraulic issue. It will be hard to go out again with only 22 mins left.” Teammate Massa did not have the same issue, and rejoined on “used soft tires.”

Vettel continued to lead with fifteen minutes remaining, with Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, and Schumacher the top five. Neither di Resta nor Liuzzi had left the garage, nor would they. Kovalainen and Trulli continued to lead the “new” teams in speed, followed by Karthikeyan, Glock, and D’Ambrosio. Neither Virgin Racing driver would qualify within the 107% rule. Around this time, Mercedes was urgently telling Schumacher that his engine was too hot and that he should “lift and coast, lift and coast.”

Alonso rejoined after a “Great job from engineers and mechanics, at least he can check the car on soft tyres,” as described by Ferrari, with about ten minutes left and in fourteenth fastest. Only the Toro Rosso drivers, the Virgin Racing drivers, and the aforementioned di Resta and Liuzzi remaining in the garage. Alonso only moved up two positions, after being slowed by Karthikeyan on his first full lap. Liuzzi did manage to get out for two laps on the session, with the rear fin off the engine cover wiggling wildly. Even with just one hot lap, Liuzzi managed to go faster than both D’Ambrosio and Glock.

Final Times from FP2, Chinese Grand Prix:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:37.688 34
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:37.854 +0.166 22
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1:37.935 +0.247 31
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:37.943 +0.255 34
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:38.105 +0.417 29
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.507 +0.819 36
7. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:38.735 +1.047 35
8. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:38.805 +1.117 26
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:38.859 +1.171 31
10. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:39.327 +1.639 33
11. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:39.538 +1.850 33
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:39.667 +1.979 37
13. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:39.771 +2.083 18
14. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:39.779 +2.091 17
15. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:39.828 +2.140 25
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:39.925 +2.237 32
17. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:39.953 +2.265 30
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:40.476 +2.788 30
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:41.482 +3.794 32
20. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:42.902 +5.214 25
21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1:43.850 +6.162 3
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:44.008 +6.320 35
23. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:44.747 +7.059 12
24. Paul di Resta Force India N/A N/A N/A

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