Vettel top as tyres wilt in India
Sebastian Vettel was fastest again in second practice on Friday as tyre degradation reared its head at the Indian Grand Prix.
The World Champion-elect set the pace with a lap of 1:25.722s at the 5.125km Buddh International Circuit to go 0.289s faster that Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.
The stark facts make the session appear business as usual for Vettel but it was not without its difficulties. For a start, he was hampered by KERS problems - the German's pace an ominous sign assuming the issue was not rectified, which is unclear - and he also suffered from blistering of the soft compound option tyre.
Regarding the latter problem, however, he was not alone. Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz reported blistering up and down the pitlane, with a concerned Adrian Newey joining Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery in the Red Bull pits at one stage.
There is no suggestion that the soft tyre might pose a safety concern but assuming it fails to last more than five or six laps in Sunday's race, it could lead to a strategy re-think on the part of the teams.
Last year's race was a one-stopper, with Pirelli bringing softer tyres in response. Twelve months on, it seems that as many as three stops appears on the cards.
The session was not without its safety concerns, though, with Williams bringing their running to a premature halt after a wheel nut fell off Pastor Maldonado's car.
The incident, which came shortly after a tyre stop, was very similar to that which befell the Venezuelan during practice at the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago. On that occasion, Williams were fined 60,000 Euros by the FIA, which said it viewed the situation as "serious".
Behind the Red Bull pair, who also finished one-two in the morning's session, came Lotus's Romain Grosjean, with Lewis Hamilton fourth for Mercedes ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) was sixth fastest ahead of Felipe Massa (Ferrari), with Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) and McLaren pair Sergio Perez and Jenson Button completing the top ten.