Germany’s defending world champion Sebastian Vettel topped the times and then dismissed concerns about his tyre failure during Red Bull’s domination of yesterday’s second practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old German, sporting newly-bleached hair, clocked a best lap of one minute and 49.331 seconds to outpace Red Bull teammate Mark Webber of Australia by 0.059 seconds.
Overall, it was another demonstration of the defending triple world champion’s mastery of the track and the conditions, until Vettel suffered his right rear puncture close to the end of a long run on medium tyres.
The incident immediately revived memories of the dramatic blowouts at the British Grand Prix in July, when Italian suppliers Pirelli were at the centre of a controversy over safety that led to threats of a drivers’ strike.
Pirelli have supplied their hardest compounds to cope with the demands of the majestic seven-kilometre circuit and have also prescribed precise limits to camber and pressure settings — to avoid any punctures.
Vettel said he had not done anything excessive in his driving that he felt could lead to a puncture. “I wasn’t doing any more or less than I did for the 10 laps before... we don’t know what happened yet,” he said.
“Basically I lost the rear right very suddenly, so we need to have a look, but other than that it was a pretty positive day.” Webber said: “I think until we find out why it leaked or failed there is no real concern. They would have called me in if there was an issue, but it looked like a pretty standard failure.”
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was third-quickest for Lotus ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari as two of the leading teams’ number two drivers upstaged their top men in a dry and warm session.