• Fernando Alonso is second fastest for Ferrari
• Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button both off the pace
Mark Webber dominated the second practice session of the British grand prix here, with the Australian posting the fastest time of the day ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and his Red Bull team-mate, Sebastian Vettel.
On a day when Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button both struggled in their McLarens, Webber, who is 24 points behind championship leader Hamilton, placed the memory of his crash in last month’s Valencia grand prix behind him. With Vettel in third there appears a real prospect of Red Bull repeating last year’s 1-2 finish here.
Webber, who clocked a time of 1min 31.234sec around the new-look Silverstone circuit, said: “It was a pretty good day apart from the electrical problem at the end, which was a shame – we lost a few laps.” The 33-year-old lost around 15 minutes of the session due to the malfunction but Webber has confidence in his Red Bull ahead of qualifying.
“The car seems to be going pretty well here. I think a few of the other teams were sandbagging a bit [purposefully going slow], but we’re happy with our programme and looking forward to qualifying. The new section of the track is pretty difficult, but it’s a good challenge.”
Vettel, who like Webber benefited from a switch to softer tyres, is ahead of his team-mate in third in the championship with 115 points, 12 behind Hamilton. He said: “The sessions were OK today – in the afternoon we had a bit of a spin and flat-spotted a set of hard tyres. We also had a problem with the brake pedal but nothing big. The pace of the car was good.
“The new section of the track is quite low speed, but it’s not as slow as we expected and doesn’t kill the rhythm. It adds something new and makes it more of a challenge. The track here is magnificent, it’s good fun, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Alonso, meanwhile, was content but insistent that Ferrari had to improve. “It’s been a pretty good Friday but we know we have to improve the car,” he said. “The Red Bulls are a lot quicker than us at the moment, so we’ll try to get as close as possible tomorrow to have a good Saturday.”
The Spaniard also feels there is more to come from the McLarens. “It will be very close tomorrow. We saw at Valencia too that McLaren on Friday was far back in the second session and then on Saturday Hamilton was in front of us and Button right behind. I think it will be similar, with three or four teams fighting for positions and let’s hope we are a bit in front of them.”
One driver not at Silverstone this weekend is Bruno Senna, the nephew of three-time champion Ayrton, though his HRT F1 team said last night that the Brazilian will get the drive for the rest of the season.
Senna has been replaced here by Sakon Yamamoto, possibly because the Japanese driver has greater financial backing, and a statement from Hispania said: “In respect to the rumours about Bruno Senna’s current [status] with Hispania, the team wants to confirm that he has all the support, that he remains one of [our] official drivers and he will be continuing to drive the remaining races.”