Thursday, 22 May 2014

Alonso fastest in FP2 as Raikkonen suffers gearbox issues

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso set the fastest time for Ferrari in the second free practice session ahead of Sunday's Monaco GrandPrix. The Spaniard ended the session just ahead of this morning's pace setter Lewis Hamilton.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest just over half a second behind Alonso. The German said following the conclusion of practice:

"Obviously we'd love to run in the dry the whole time here, but of course if it’s wet it's the same for everyone. Mercedes were very quick this morning and we see that usually, come Saturday, they are able to pick up their pace, so we'll try to do the same. We potentially are a little bit closer here, but you know at the moment it's all guessing. I think the big advantage on this track would be that there's not that many straights, but we have to wait and see. We were obviously limited today on what we could learn in terms of pace and range, we know that it's quite important to qualify in the front here so if there is a chance then we have to use it."

 Toro Rosso's Jean Eric Vergne was fourth fastest, 0.898s behind Fernando Alonso. Valtteri Bottas had another good session for the Williams Martini Racing Team with the Finn ending the afternoon in fifth place 0.939s behind Alonso and just ahead of the Sahara Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

Speaking after today's session, Sergio Perez said:

'The day was disturbed by the weather so the work we have done is quite limited. I feel quite happy with the car and we ran in the top eight all day so it’s been positive. That’s where we need to be aiming for Saturday because qualifying well here is so important. There are still quite a few unknowns because I did not manage to do any long runs or race preparation, but it’s the same for everyone.'

His Force India team mate Nico Hulkenberg was frustrated by the weather conditions this afternoon, saying:

'The wet weather did not give us an opportunity to run much this afternoon, but I feel we have made the most of the time available this morning. In terms of performance the car is feeling okay and we just need to make some set-up tweaks and work on the balance before Saturday. The focus has to be on qualifying here because it’s even more important than at any other track. So we just need to optimise the car to be ready for Saturday.'

McLaren's Jenson Button was 8th fastest for the Woking based squad finishing the session just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. Ricciardo who completed 48 lap's in total on Thursday. The Australia was disappointed not to be able to do more running due to the weather conditions.

'It was a shame we didn’t run so much this afternoon due to the conditions, but if it rains over the weekend then we’ll want to use the tyres, so there was a bit of waiting around, At the end the track still had a few damp patches, so we didn't really learn that much this afternoon but I think the morning went well, so we've just got to try and get the set-up from that. The few laps I did this afternoon felt similar to the morning in terms of car balance and the things we need to work on, so I think the direction we've got to go is pretty clear. If we're going to challenge the Mercs then I think this is the place for it, they don't seem to have one sector at the moment which is blowing everyone away, but obviously it's still early days.'

 Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten in the second McLaren while Felipe Massa finished the day in eleventh place in the second Williams. Daniil Kvyat was 12th in the second Toro Rosso. Adrian Sutil did a good job this afternoon for Sauber following his crash this morning and ended the session in 13th place in the C33.

Pastor Maldonado was 14th for the Lotus F1 Team just ahead of Esteban Gutierrez in the second Sauber and his Lotus team mate Romain Grosjean who was in 16th place. It was a good day for the Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi finished the session in 17th place and fastest of the 'Marussia/Caterham battle'. Jules Bianchi was 18th fastest with his Marussia team mate Max Chilton in with Nico Rosberg ending the day in 20th place in his Mercedes.

The German revealing after the session that he didn't want to take risks in the second session due to the weather conditions which explains why he ended the session in 20th place. Marcus Ericsson finished the session in 21st place and brought out the yellow flags with just over a minute to go in the session after making slight contact with barrier just before the entry to the entry to the tunnel.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen had an afternoon to forget as a gearbox issue meant that he spent a lort of time in the garage. The Finn also narrowly avoided being hit by Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel as the Finn walked from the paddock across the pit-lane to the Ferrari garage. The Iceman was pulled aside by a Red Bull mechanic. Following the session, Raikkonen said:

'In the afternoon, we made a few changes to improve the balance of the car, but having waited almost an hour before being able to go out on track, a problem with the gearbox prevented me from completing the session.'

Friday in Monaco is always a day of rest when F1 is in town so as the track action will once again get underway for Free Practice Three on Saturday morning just before qualifying.

©Ben Johnston 2014

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