German Grand Prix: local boy Vettel goes fastest in practice

Vettel-practiceSo, 90 minutes of practice over and — with one hand on the wooden desk — this week’s kerfuffle looks over too. Sebastian Vettel, on top in FP2, is already talking down the notion of the “threat” of a GPDA walkout. They just wanted to make their feelings known, apparently. So let’s get back to the racing, because racing is what we have.

The significant advantage enjoyed by the Silver Arrows at Silverstone looks to have, at the very least, waned. Vettel led Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber by a couple of tenths, the Lotus drivers another two tenths behind them, and Ferrari a further two just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton led the way home clearly in the morning session, but was unable to repeat the form in the afternoon when everyone had a crack at the softer compound. Don’t discount him in what could be a cracking qualifying session tomorrow at 13.00 for those on Sky or tuned in to Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. The BBC highlights are at 17.55.

Mercedes arrived with new parts for the pace-making car at Silverstone, including a nose not entirely dissimilar from Ferrari’s; it looked cracking, making the W04 the second best looking 2013-spec F1 car, second to the Ferrari that is. (We’d be interested to know your thoughts there? The Ferrari, the Merc, then the Sauber and then the McLaren for the bedroom wall?).

The McLarens looked horrible to drive once again, bouncing like a juiced-up toddler in to the braking zones. Maybe because he speaks quite so clearly, quite so calmly, we heard a lot of Jenson Button on the carphone today. It breaks your heart to hear JB struggling to keep the feedback coming through as constructive and positive. He’s certainly not talking like a driver who is certain he will still be with McLaren in 2014, despite the ‘multi-year’ contract.

Given that neither Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne seem to have quite enough of The Right Stuff, Kimi Raikkonen would seem to be the obvious driver to replace Webber, but would Vettel rather have Button? And Red Bull is, as Mark Webber will no doubt tell us just after the Brazilian GP finishes, unquestionably Vettel’s team. Still, McLaren was Hamilton’s team when JB arrived, and that didn’t seem to bother him one iota…

Form guide then on the new interim tyres so far? Red Bull a little up, Mercedes a little down. Lotus and Ferrari a little faster, Force India a little slower. But whether it’s a German driver or a German car, we think the locals will have something to shout about come Sunday.

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