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Practice Two - Vettel the clear leader in Austin 16 Nov 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, Friday, 16 November 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel continued Red Bull’s domination of practice for this weekend’s US round at the Circuit of The Americas on Friday afternoon, lapping seventh tenths of a second clear of team mate Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and a whole second ahead of the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Vettel did his lap when conditions were at their best, which meant a track temperature of 30 degrees Celsius compared to only 18 during the morning session, and later on a deterioration saw times as much as two seconds off in the first sector alone, but it was nonetheless a worrying shot across everyone else’s bows, especially as the German spent a significant portion of the 90 minutes confined to the garage thanks to a water leak.

Alonso’s best in the Ferrari was 1m 38.483s, which was promisingly close to Webber’s 1m 38.475s, but Vettel’s pace (1m 37.718s) had everyone open-mouthed. Hamilton had looked quick early on with 1m 38.748s, with Button on form in fifth with 1m 38.786s. Time will tell whether Vettel just got things perfect while others were focusing on different things, or whether Red Bull really do have such a massive performance advantage.

Felipe Massa was sixth for Ferrari on 1m 39.029s, with Nico Rosberg seventh in the lead Mercedes on 1m 39.448s ahead of Bruno Senna, who found tyre temperature in his Williams that had been lacking in FP1. The Brazilian lapped in 1m 39.531s for eighth ahead of Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber on 1m 39.653s.

Then there was a bit of a gap to Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes on 1m 40.115s, and Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 40.166s for Lotus. Pastor Maldonado was 12th with 1m 40.230s and caused a minor stir when he came into the pits with the rear of his Williams ablaze. The fire was quickly extinguished by his crew.

Romain Grosjean, like Hamilton and Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov, had a spin, and ended the session 13th for Lotus on 1m 40.286s, with Sergio Perez 14th for Sauber on 1m 40.326s ahead of the inseparable Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 40.435s and 1m 40.516s. Force India lost pace, with Nico Hulkenberg 17th on 1m 40.700s and Paul di Resta next up on 1m 41.430s.

Caterham got back ahead in the new team stakes, but only just. Heikki Kovalainen cut his left-rear tyre in an incident with Vergne, but worked down to 1m 42.476s to head Marussia’s Timo Glock and team mate Petrov, on 1m 42.652s and 1m 42.846s respectively. Charles Pic wasn’t so impressive this time and was 22nd on 1m 43.538s. Pedro de la Rosa was again HRT’s better runner in 1m 44.453s, with Narain Karthikeyan lapping his F112 in 1m 45.114s on his first acquaintance with the track.

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