• Japanese Grand Prix - FP2

Peerless Vettel dominates Friday practice

Laurence Edmondson October 8, 2010 « Heavy rain threatens Suzuka qualifying | »

Red Bull dominated the second session of Friday practice, leaving its championship rivals over 0.8 seconds off the pace heading into the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Sebastian Vettel was peerless throughout both sessions and had a comfortable 0.395 second margin over team-mate and championship leader Mark Webber. Even more impressive was the fact that he clocked his best time several laps into his soft tyre run, when the rubber would have been past its best. However, with torrential conditions forecast for Saturday's qualifying there could still be an upset ahead of the race as the Red Bull has tended to lose its edge in the wet.

Lewis Hamilton seriously damaged his chances of fighting for victory this weekend after an accident in the morning session meant he missed over two hours of practice time. When he finally did hit the track it was with a reasonably heavy fuel load and his times were over two seconds off the pace, meaning he finished the session back in 13th. But Jenson Button's best time was still a second off the pace of Vettel, suggesting that McLaren is set for a very difficult weekend to keep its drivers in touch with the championship leaders.

Fernando Alonso can expect a slightly more competitive weekend, but even he was 0.897 off Vettel's best lap. Ferrari has tended to keep its cards close to its chest during Friday practice this year but a deficit of that size is nearly impossible to overcome in time for qualifying. On the plus side for Alonso, his long run lap times were much closer to Red Bull, so a competitive race is still possible even if qualifying goes Red Bull's way.

Robert Kubica could be in a position to take points off some of the championship contenders after he recorded the third fastest time in the Renault. He had a big spin earlier in the session on the exit of turn seven, but when he bolted on the soft tyres his car looked planted through the high-speed sector one. Team-mate Vitaly Petrov also looked impressive with one of his best practice performances of the season.

Michael Schumacher looks set for a good weekend after he finished both sessions ahead of Nico Rosberg and in the top ten. When he headed out on a heavy fuel load he ran wide at the second Degner but, unlike Hamilton in first practice, managed to keep his car out of the barriers.

Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten as Force India and Williams join battle again over sixth place in the constructors' championship. The only concern for Force India will be that Tonio Liuzzi was 1.5 seconds slower than his team-mate, although he only got a revised diffuser for the second session whereas Sutil had it in both.

Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010