September 20th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Every team wants to see their cars first and second on the time sheets, no matter what the event. Today, Red Bull saw just that, when Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber set the fastest and second fastest times in Free Practice 2 ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix. Vettel finished the session six tenths of a second faster than Webber, and a full second clear of the rest of the field.
For much of the day, it looked like Webber might have the upper hand at Red Bull. He was faster than Vettel in FP1, and again for the early part of FP2. But then the option tyres were put on the cars and Vettel delivered a stunning lap on presumably quite low fuel to set the quickest time of the day. On Webber's option tyre flying lap, he brushed the wall on the exit of turn 21 hard enough to generate a massive spark when his right-rear wheel rim made contact with the wall. Although there was no major damage, it almost certainly cost him time, if only through momentary hesitation. Had his lap been just a little bit cleaner, the gap to Vettel might not be quite as big as it looks in the times.
After practice, Vettel refused to get too excited about his team's pace, although he will be aware that his championship chances are looking stronger than ever with Fernando Alonso well off the pace in sixth place. Instead, Vettel is concentrating on what he expects to be a qualifying battle with Mercedes on Saturday evening. He said after practice:
“It was quite busy; it’s pretty hot out there, good fun and a nice place, but for all of us it’s quite hard work. The time we set was a surprise today, I got a good lap in, but I don’t think it’s completely representative. We seem to be quick, but I think Mercedes will be very strong in qualifying tomorrow. I think Turn 10 is the best solution we have with the space that’s available.”
Mark Webber agreed with Vettel about the improved turn 10, the left-hander that replaced the infamous triple-apex "Singapore Sling" chicane of years gone by. He, like Vettel, also refused to get carried away about the apparent pace of the Red Bull, and instead focused on the work that still remains in the final practice session:
“We got most of the work done today that we planned to. It’s an easy venue to not get what you want, but in the end I think we’ve got a reasonable set-up. We’ve got work to do on the long run and also on the short run, you can’t neglect that. We won’t count our chickens yet, but it was a smooth day. Turn 10 is better now I think.”