Saturday, November 17, 2012

United States Grand Prix: Practice Session 2

Sebastian Vettel  Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber pulled out in front again Friday during Practice Session 2 at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Vettel found speed despite being relegated to the garage for a good portion of the session with a water-pressure issue just 10 minutes into the practice. I would imagine this was prime opportunity for Vettel to monitor data from his teammate closely, but this is somewhat reminiscent of the problems Webber had at Abu Dhabi, with the battery relating to his KERS system.

HRT also had problems when they announced a short running time for the session as they waited for best possible conditions. Saturday's practice session may be short as well, as the team is being sold and having financial difficulties. There is some speculation as to whether they will qualify for this weekend.

After Practice Session 2 got under way, Nico Rosberg went to the top early with a time of 1:39.842. It took a while for the drivers to settle into their comfort zones, and they started posting fast laps about 30 minutes in. Webber and Felipe Massa ran in the 1:39.9s while Lewis Hamilton seemed to struggle more than a second behind the pair.

With Vettel only having run three laps and in the garage, Webber then surpassed Rosberg and set the fastest time at 1:39.485 with 51 minutes to go. Alonso, Rosberg and Button followed behind him. 

Vettel created a flurry in the Red Bull garage as he donned his helmet and put on his gloves. At the same time, two mishaps occurred on the track: Webber and Jean-Eric Vergne made contact and there was a close call between Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov. Kovalainen got the raw end of the deal, with a left rear tyre puncture.

As Kovalainen limped into the garage, Vettel headed out with 26 minutes left on the clock. It took him no time to settle down and do what he does best. Vettel quickly set the fastest lap of the weekend so far with a time of 1:37.718. 

Top-10 finishers for Practice Session 2:

Sebastian Vettel: 1:37.718
Mark Webber: 1:38.475
Fernando Alonso: 1:38.483
Lewis Hamilton: 1:38.738
Jenson Button: 1:38.786
Felipe Massa: 1:39.029
Nico Rosberg: 1:39.448
Bruno Senna: 1:39.531
Kamui Kobayashi: 1:39.653
Michael Schumacher: 1:40.115

Join me Saturday for Practice Session 3 along with Qualifying. Below is Saturday's schedule and don't forget, if you are in Austin and wondering how to spend your evening, there is plenty to do! Want a handy guide to take to COTA? Just print this page for a layout of the track along with snippets of information regarding Formula One's newest circuit.

Saturday 
Practice session 3: 9:00-10:00 a.m. Central Time (televised live on SPEED)
Qualifying: 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT (televised live on SPEED)

Sunday 
Drivers Parade: 11:30 a.m. CT
Race: 1:00-3:00 p.m. CT (televised live on SPEED, coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. ET)
Followed by podium interviews and press conference. 

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