Vettel goes fastest on P Zero White medium

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time at the Japanese Grand Prix during second free practice session today, running on Pirelli’s P Zero White medium tyre. This has been nominated alongside the P Zero Orange hard which are both well-suited to the challenging demands of the Suzuka circuit which is renowned for its high-speed corners.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton went fastest on the P Zero Orange hard compound this morning, setting a benchmark time of 1m34.157s.  But it was Vettel who went on to set a time of 1m33.852s during the second free practice, which proved to be the quickest time of the day. The 26-year-old set his fastest time halfway through the afternoon session, with his team-mate Mark Webber going second-quickest while also on the medium compound.

Both sessions were held in warm and dry weather with ambient temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We always enjoy coming to Japan: the atmosphere is electric and the enthusiasm for Formula One over here is nothing short of incredible.  We had two solid free practice sessions today with the teams collecting data on crossover points, the relative speed of the tyre when used for more than one run and general tyre behaviour.  Last year we saw a two-stop tyre strategy and it looks like we are on target for a two to three stop race again this year. Suzuka is an abrasive circuit and the tyres are subject to high-energy loadings with fast corners such as 130R and Spoon. It’s no surprise, therefore, that a three-stop strategy was what won this race back in 2011. We are expecting lower temperatures for race day which will reduce the thermal wear of the tyres and some teams might try to go for a straight two-stop race. From the data we currently have the time difference between the two compounds is around 0.5s.”

FP1: FP2:
1.Hamilton  1m34.157s  Hard Used 1.Vettel  1m33.852s  Medium New
2.Rosberg  1m34.487s  Hard Used 2.Webber  1m34.020s  Medium New
3.Vettel  1m34.768s  Hard Used 3.Rosberg  1m34.114s  Medium New

Tyre statistics of the day:

  Medium Hard Intermediate Wet
kms driven * 1,608 4,436 N/A N/A
sets used overall ** 19 43 N/A N/A
highest number of laps ** 23 28 N/A N/A

* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.

May the Force be with you:

What is popularly known as g-force is in fact acceleration. These are the maximum values while braking and cornering:

-Max. g-force braking (longitudinal force): -4.55 @ T16
-Max. g-force cornering (lateral force): 5.00 @ T1

Pirelli facts of the day:

Sebastian Vettel has now led the last 142 laps in a row and has won the past four grand prix races – something he has done three times in his career already. However, if Vettel wins in Japan this weekend he will join an elite group of only five drivers in F1 history who have managed to win five races or more – Alberto Ascari (nine), Michael Schumacher (seven, six and five), Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell (all five).  Furthermore, if Fernando Alonso finishes less than eighth this weekend, Vettel will be crowned the 2013 world champion and will become the youngest driver in history to win four championships.