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Belgian Grand Prix: Vettel, Red Bull back on top in FP2

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull struck an important blow by dominating second practice at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing issued an early warning to their F1 rivals by topping the FP2 timesheets by nearly a second at Spa-Francorchamps.

Although RBR team-mate Mark Webber ran the German close – the Australian lapping just 0.059secs off the pace – no-one else appeared able to live with the world champions, with Romain Grosjean the best of the rest, but eight-tenths adrift of top spot.

Vettel's position was not only out of reach by his rivals, but also survived a punctured right-rear tyre, which saw him limping back to the pits with 20 minutes remaining in the 90-minute session. Although he largely avoided damaging the floor of his RB9 by running slowly over the final third of the lap from Blanchimont, it was decided not to send the German back out.

While the incident naturally raised concerns over a potential repeat of the Silverstone tyre drama, Red Bull believed the deflation – the Pirelli remained more or less intact – to have been caused by debris on track rather than a weakness in its construction.

The fact that Giedo van der Garde speared off into the barriers shortly before the point that Vettel was spotted slowing down also suggests that RBR's theory may hold some weight. Fortunately, van der Garde – running in what is effectively a home race for a Dutch driver given the current F1 schedule – was unhurt in the shunt, although his afternoon was also cut short by damage.

Behind Grosjean, who lapped in 1min 50.149secs to turn his day around after bringing up the rear in mixed conditions during the morning session, Felipe Massa enjoyed a strong session, filling fourth place as the best of the Ferraris and only 0.015secs slower than Grosjean. Team-mate Fernando Alonso was seventh fastest, a further three-tenths shy, and one spot behind the second Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen. Alonso, meanwhile, reported that he too had suffered a puncture during practice.

Between Massa and Raikkonen, Jean-Eric Vergne underlined his claim that Toro Rosso traditionally tends to have a good car at Spa by putting his STR08 into the top five, while Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg and Paul di Resta rounded out the top ten.

While Force India will have been disappointed not to have been able to repeat the top three performance it showed during the morning's wet-dry conditions, no-one will be as frustrated as Lewis Hamilton, who went from winning last time out in Hungary to struggling to keep his car on track at Spa. More than once, the Briton was forced to take to the run off as his Mercedes appeared a handful, and he ended the day down in twelfth spot.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Giedo Van der Garde (NED), Caterham F1 Team CT03
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-28
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Felipe Massa (BRA) Scuderia Ferrari F138
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E21
23.08.2013- Free Practice 1, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9
Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari SF16-H.
27.08.2016. Qualifying
Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB12.
27.08.2016. Qualifying
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB12.
27.08.2016. Qualifying
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C34
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Jenson Button (GBR)  McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Manor Racing MRT05
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Honda MP4-31
27.08.2016 - Free Practice 3, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid

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