October 4th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Mercedes appear to be genuine competitors in Korea this weekend. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished the second free practice session first and third fastest, with the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber second and fourth quickest. There is a gap of a few tenths from the leading four drivers to the Ferrari of Felipe Massa who was fifth fastest.
As in the morning session, the track was slippery, although not to the extent that it was in FP1. There were no crashes, but several drivers ran off the track and Esteban Gutierrez had a spin in turn 1.
Kimi Raikkonen crashed heavily in the earlier FP1 session, and it was to the credit of his Lotus team that he was able to take to the track just 14 minutes into FP2 after the team executed a very swift repair job between sessions. The car did, however, shows some ill effects from the earlier incident, as Raikkonen found his steering wheel pulled to the right on his first run. That will have been rectified in the pits, and Raikkonen went on to complete 33 laps and set the 8th fastest time.
FP2 saw the first appearance of the option tyres, which this weekend are the red-walled supersoft compound tyres. This was a key indicator of the likely form for the rest of the weekend, as Mercedes have typically been close to Red Bull's pace on harder compound rubber recently, but have struggled at the last few races to keep up on the option tyres. Today, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were certainly on the pace, which suggests that we could see a close battle in Sunday's race, or at least in Saturday's qualifying session.
After sitting out FP1, Jules Bianchi and Paul di Resta were back in their respective cars for FP2. Bianchi set about showing the way to his team-mate Max Chilton and lapped a third of a second faster than Chilton despite having sat out FP1. Di Resta set a time just 0.001 seconds slower than Adrian Sutil in the other Force India, showing that he had no trouble getting up to speed despite missing the first 90-minute session.
The time gap between the prime and option tyres does not seem to be as large as we've seen in recent races. Mark Webber was the first driver to set a supersoft tyre time, and he went just seven tenths quicker than his best effort on the medium tyres. It looks likely that the top teams will not have to use the supersoft tyres until Q2 at the earliest in tomorrow's qualifying session. If they are feeling particularly confident, they might even be able to get through to Q3 on the medium tyres.
The third and final practice session will take place at 11am local time tomorrow morning.
Full results from FP2:
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.781||0.108||30|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.844||0.171||35|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.006||1.333||34|
|11||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.007||1.334||34|
|19||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:42.461||3.788||36|