Formula 1

Vettel fastest in incident-packed Free Practice 2 at Interlagos

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Sebastian Vettel - Scuderia Ferrari in the 2019 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka International Racing Course - Free Practice 1
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Sebastian Vettel was quickest in the second practice session for this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace.

After the wet running in Free Practice 1 this morning, many drivers took to the track in slicks straight away. Valtteri Bottas set the benchmark by going fastest on a 1:10.812 on the hard compound, a quarter of a second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. in second on the medium.

The session was red-flagged after just five minutes, as Robert Kubica slammed his Williams Racing into the barrier on the outside of Turn Three, ending his session prematurely.

The afternoon’s running was back underway after an eight-minute halt. Max Verstappen inherited top spot with a 1:10.051, as Alexander Albon followed through into second position, seven tenths off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton a few minutes later became the first driver this weekend to clock a time in under seventy seconds, a 1:09.938. Charles Leclerc was the next driver to go quickest for Scuderia Ferrari, as Hamilton was second after the opening twenty minutes, ahead of Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Albon, Bottas, Sainz, Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly and Sergio Pérez.

Vettel demonstrated his speed by going fastest on a 1:09.570 moments later, over two tenths in front of his team-mate Leclerc.

As the action calmed down after the opening half an hour, George Russell was the first driver to head out on the soft compound, going sixteenth on a 1:11.818 before anybody else completed their runs on that tyre.

Despite having his first flying lap compromised by Bottas at Juncão, Vettel bettered his earlier time on the second attempt to keep his first place, as Leclerc improved to go second and Bottas in third with forty minutes remaining. Lewis Hamilton was fourth and nearly half a second shy of the Ferraris.

Verstappen a few minutes afterwards jumped up into the top three, more than a tenth off the fastest time but did set the best second sector time on his way to achieving it.

The final thirty-five minutes of the session saw the teams do their race simulations, although conditions on Sunday could prove to be different to what the action on Friday has shown.

A final twist in the session occurred when Pierre Gasly pulled to the side of the circuit with a power unit failure in his Toro Rosso Honda, which brought out a brief Virtual Safety Car. The Frenchman would end his afternoon in twelfth.

The Italian team’s day was complete by Daniil Kvyat, who had suffered a similar problem, which had sent him off the track at Juncão with five minutes to go. The red flag meant no more running was done.

Therefore, Sebastian Vettel ended Friday on top of the timing pages, with Charles Leclerc only a couple of hundredths behind in second. The two Mercedes-AMG Motorsport cars are close behind but the gap between Kevin Magnussen in sixth and Lando Norris in eighteenth was separated by less than six tenths.

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