Sebastian Vettel proved he can sit out an entire practice session and still prove to be Formula One’s dominant force.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix, Vettel watched second practice yesterday from the Red Bull Racing garage following a heavy smash in the wet in the first 90-minute run, completing a mere four laps for the day.
That forced his mechanics into making lengthy repairs in order to prepare his car for today, and it was almost as if the reigning world champion had never been away.
The 23-year-old German is on course to secure his fifth consecutive pole position in qualifying later today, although he had surprising company at the top of the timesheet at Istanbul Park.
Vettel’s best lap of one minute 26.037secs was just over 0.4secs quicker than the fastest of yesterday posted by Jenson Button in his McLaren.
Vettel, however, finished today’s final 60-minute practice run just 0.001secs faster than seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher as Mercedes are clearly suggesting here they could have a say.
Behind the German duo were Mark Webber in his Red Bull followed by Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes, the duo also in close company as they were separated by just 0.016secs, albeit a third of a second off of Vettel.
Then came the McLaren pairing of Button who was again ahead of team -mate Lewis Hamilton, with the former just over half a second down, and the latter closer to 0.7secs adrift.
There is a clear indicator those three are the leading teams this weekend, with Renault and Ferrari in close attendance.
Behind Hamilton was Vitaly Petrov in his Renault followed by the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, with the trio the only other drivers within a second of Vettel.
Sebastien Buemi completed the top 10 in his Toro Rosso, finishing 1.043secs behind Vettel, with rookies in Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado directly behind him.
Paul di Resta marginally improved on his time of yesterday, but on this occasion his lap of 1:27.644 was only good enough for 16th, three places and 0.3secs behind Vettel.
At the bottom were the two Lotuses, Virgins and Hispanias in that order, with Narain Karthikeyan bringing up the rear nearly six seconds down, but within the 107% time required in qualifying, suggesting all 24 cars will likely race tomorrow.