August 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominated the second practice session for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, setting lap times within 6 hundredths of a second of each other, and eight tenths faster than their nearest challenger, Romain Grosjean.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the session was the almost complete non-performance of Mercedes. With 3 wins under their collective belt this season, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg should be aiming for the front of the field at Spa - a circuit that should suit the Mercedes car - but they were some way off the pace this afternoon.
Rosberg set the ninth fastest time, 1.270 seconds slower than Vettel at the front, with Hamilton back in 12th place, 1.420 seconds off the pace. It's not clear why Mercedes are so far behind, but the likely reason is they have simply not shown their pace yet. They can choose not to run on particularly low fuel if it suits their practice programme, and that is likely what happened today. Tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session will show their true pace.
Ferrari have also been struggling a bit during practice, but that could simply be down to setup. The rear wing of Fernando Alonso's car saw lots of adjustments during the day, while Felipe Massa kept his setup quite consistent through the two sessions. Massa ended FP2 fourth, with Alonso a third of a second back in seventh.
The FP2 session saw two incidents of note. Firstly, Sebastian Vettel had a puncture on his right-rear tyre and had to crawl back to the pits to avoid damaging his floor too badly. There was a partial delamination of the tyre on both the inside and outside shoulder and what looked like evidence of overheating on the surface of the tyre. It is not yet clear what caused the failure, but there will be concern after the fiasco of Silverstone if it turns out to have been a failure of the construction of the tyre.
Shortly after Vettel pitted, Giedo van der Garde lost the back end of his Caterham on the exit of Curve Paul Frere and clouted the tyres on the outside of the run-off area, damaging both front and rear suspension and taking off his front wing. He appeared to be unhurt although the accident happened at some speed. From the onboard footage, it looked like he simply lost the back end of the car on the exit of the corner, although it is possible that the rear suspension could have failed and caused the crash, rather than as a result of it.
Full results from FP2:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:49.331||22|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:49.390||0.059||34|
|10||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:50.611||1.280||27|
|11||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:50.629||1.298||30|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:53.157||3.826||21|