By Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Mark Webber was fastest during the second practice session for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring this afternoon; the Australian lapped the Eiffel circuit in 1m31.711s during the very last minutes of the session. Earlier in the session dark clouds gathered above the skies of the Eiffel circuit, but apart from a few drops it stayed dry during the 90-minute long session this afternoon. Webber’s Red Bull team colleague Sebastian Vettel took third position, just 0.373s behind the Australian.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso split the Red Bull pair and crossed the finish line after recording the second fastest time with 1m31.879s. Brazilian Felipe Massa took fourth place, 0.643s behind leader Webber. This time Michael Schumacher was the fastest German this afternoon and took fifth place after he had one hour into the session had already posted fourth fastest time.
Second Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg had an outing in the turn named after his team colleague, the Schumacher S, bounced through the gravel trap but he and his car emerged from the gravel unscathed and towards the end of the session the German posted the sixth fastest time, only 0.146s behind Schumacher.
Turn 1 was again a popular destination as many drivers ended up on the run-off area, Lewis Hamilton was one of them as he after just a few minutes ran wide and also ended up on the run-off area. Hamilton was again the quickest of the McLaren drivers and took seventh place, a little over one second slower than Alonso.
Not a good day for Jenson Button, who was testing a new exhaust lay-out which caused problems for the Briton who spent some time in the garage to sort out exhaust-related problems. He ultimately finished in 11th position with a time of 1m33.226.
Both Lotus Renault drivers were considerably faster than this morning, and Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov finished in eighth and ninth place respectively, albeit almost one and a half second slower than leader Webber.
Force India driver Adrian Sutil was the fifth fastest of the German drivers, after he had earlier spun off at the NGK chicane. Sutil had to return to the pit to check out his car, but towards the end of the session improved his pace before ultimately taking tenth position, ahead of the unfortunate Button. Paul di Resta took twelfth position and was followed by the first Sauber of Sergio Perez, who was again faster than Kobayashi, who took 16th place in the second Sauber.
Rubens Barrichello took his Williams to 14th place, while Pastor Maldonado was 17th. Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari was the fastest Toro Rosso driver and landed 15th position with a time of 1m34.487, which was 2.776s seconds slower than Webber’s time. Another popular turn was Turn 5, both Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock rally-crossed through the gravel trap, for Kovalainen it was the second time he lost it at Turn 5 today.
The Finn was again the fastest of the Team Lotus drivers and scored an 18th place, while Karun Chandhok took 20th place, one and a half second slower than Kovalainen. Glock also survived his trip through the gravel trap and recorded the 19th time of the afternoon for Marussia Virgin, his Belgium colleague Jerome d'Ambrosio took 21st place.
HRT driver Daniel Ricciardo spun off at Turn 6 after just 14 minutes, had to leave his car and did not get further than 23st place, nine seconds off the pace and two and a half second behind his Italian team colleague Vitantonio Liuzzi, who took 22nd place.
But Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi was worse off, due to engine problems he was forced to return to the pit after just one lap and had to sit out the afternoon in the garage, it will therefore be no surprise the Swiss driver finished the afternoon without a time on the clocks, and took 24th and last place.
Again an afternoon without rain, but due to the low temperatures drivers again had problems getting their tyres at the right temperature; again most drivers delivered their times on the soft compound after they tried the medium compound early on.
With this afternoon’s result, it looks like tomorrow’s qualifying session will be decided by Red Bull and Ferrari, the weather will play an important role, and McLaren and Mercedes could be fighting for fifth and sixth position. Tomorrow drivers will have one final last chance to find the right setup during the third and final practice session for the German Grand Prix.