Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull appear to be favourites for a fourth consecutive victory after dominating Friday Practice ahead of the Indian Grand Prix. Vettel and teammate Mark Webber were half a second clear of the opposition on the option tyres this afternoon and although the race simulations looked closer, the Milton Keynes squad seem to have a definite edge.
The track took a while to rubber in during the first session but that didn’t stop Vettel from topping the timesheets. Jenson Button put in a late flier to grab second but the McLarens didn’t feature as high in the FP2 results, with Lewis Hamilton and Button trailing by the best part of a second.
In fact McLaren found themselves outpaced by four different teams with Vettel pipping Webber by a tenth of a second, clocking a 1:26.221. Alonso had led his championship rival briefly but was demoted back to third while Nico Rosberg took an impressive fourth for Mercedes, albeit eight tenths off the pace.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest for Lotus with the McLaren duo next up complaining of a lack of grip. Both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button failed to extract the best from the soft tyres at the first time of asking, mainly due to a lack of temperature, and the British pair were left in sixth and seventh, with plenty of work to do overnight.
Nico Hulkenberg continued to gate-crash the leading contenders in his Force India despite an afternoon spin, setting the eighth quickest time ahead of Romain Grosjean with Bruno Senna completing the top ten for Williams. In-form Felipe Massa didn’t enjoy his afternoon though as the kerbs that ruined his weekend last year struck again. The Brazilian spun off on more than one occasion before ending up fifteenth.
Another driver whose day was far from straightforward was Sergio Perez who missed FP1 due to illness. This gave Esteban Gutierrez his first chance to drive the Sauber in an official Grand Prix session, an opportunity that won’t be his last if the rumours are to be believed. The young Mexican was twentieth this morning before stepping aside for his compatriot in the afternoon with Perez twelfth overall.