6 September 2013
Italian Grand Prix: Vettel strikes back in Monza FP2
Sebastian Vettel cast an ominous note over Monza as he blitzed the field in second practice for the Italian Grand Prix.
Having allowed Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to steal the glory in Friday morning's practice session, Sebastian Vettel quickly stamped his authority on proceedings at Monza by dominating FP2.
The German comfortably topped the 'qualifying' portion of the 90-minute outing, using Pirelli's option tyre to post a time that no-one, Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber included, could get within half a second of. The Australian ended the day 0.623secs behind the world champion after Vettel lowered the weekend's benchmark to 1min 24.453secs.
With Hamilton only posting the sixth-best time of the afternoon – 0.887secs off the pace – it was left to Lotus to pose the biggest threat to Red Bull, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean posting times identical to the thousandth as they filled third and fourth spots. Alonso turned the tables on Hamilton to claim fifth, but was similarly eight-tenths off Vettel's best effort. Raikkonen was lucky to get away with a 'wheel in the dirt' moment exiting Parabolica in the long wheelbase Lotus, the resulting dust cloud resembling a blown engine despite the Finn sweeping down the main straight.
Nico Rosberg also came close to matching Hamilton's lap, ending the day seventh fastest, as Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten. It was not all plain sailing for Massa, however, as a gearbox problem ended his session earlier than he would have wished on what could be a crucial weekend for his F1 career.
Adrian Sutil returned the cockpit of his regular Force India, having handed the car over to debutant James Calado in FP1. The German ended his lone session in 13th spot, 1.5secs off the pace, but just a couple of tenths slower than team-mate Paul di Resta who had already amassed 90 minutes of track time.
The pair sandwiched Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, who again got the better of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg as the German attempted to make up for the time he lost to a gearbox problem in FP1, while Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne pushed in to complete the top 15.
The Frenchman's team-mate, new Red Bull signing Daniel Ricciardo, was only 17th after admitting to a nightmare run on the softer rubber, leaving him ahead of only Valtteri Bottas – who similarly lapped faster in the morning session – and the four expected tail-enders, who were headed, on this occasion, by Marussia's Max Chilton, the Monza polesitter in last year's GP2 encounter.
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