2011 Spanish GP – Saturday Practice Results

Saturday practice at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain gave an indication of just how far ahead Red Bull are in terms of performance. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were much quicker than their rivals expected, lapping in the 1:21s while others barely made the 1:23s mark. And once again, Sebastian is psychologically pounding his team mate into the ground. He did not set a lap time for most of the session, aborting a couple of runs, and completed his first timed lap just after the chequered flag came out, but that was enough to beat Webber’s time by 0.084 seconds. It wasn’t just a lap; it was a statement. A statement to Webber that he, Sebastian, cannot be beaten.

The Vettel express looks unstoppable this year, and it appears futile to even try to beat him in Q3. But that said, it wasn’t plain sailing this afternoon for the young German, and a suspected engine problem in his car means that he will need some luck to win the race. And in any case, the Red Bulls seem to have such a humongous  performance advantage that they can probably wind down their engines and cruise to a 1-2 tomorrow. What further strengthens their advantage is that they are probably the only team capable of getting through Q1 on the hard tyres. That means they will have an additional set of soft tyres for the race.

Behind the dominant Red Bulls came the Mercedes of Schumacher, looking vastly improved from his Turkish GP woes, the McLarens of Hamilton and Button, and then Rosberg in sixth rounding off closely matched group. Kobayashi and Petrov were seventh and eighth quickest, the Sauber team having a fine weekend so far with an improved car. Renault however, had a scary moment when Nick Heidfeld’s car caught fire spectacularly, but the German hopped out of the car quickly and the marshals put out what had then become a conflagration. The team will have to put their noses to the grindstone to get the car ready for qualifying.Ferrari had hydraulic problems once again on Alonso’s car and with their rear wing declared illegal, their prospects of a podium are fast diminishing. Fernando was 9th fastest and Massa 11th. The rest of the teams stacked up behind, although HRT were almost 8 seconds off the Red Bull’s soft tyre pace – quite worrying in view of the 107% rule.

Here are the results :


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