Friday analysis: competition wary of strong Red Bull

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Italy, Autodromo Nazionale di Monzait

While it's early days, the second practice always reveals some performance levels as drivers do race stint simulations to analyse the behaviour of the tyres in light of race strategy decisions.

At a moment where it is crucial for Fernando Alonso to start to close the gap to Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, the German led the field in FP2 by 6 tenths over his teammate, confirming that Red Bull and himself are out to win and seal the title as soon as they can.

The competition is wary of the Red Bulls, and doubt they can be caught, even though the car setups are far from finalised. Hamilton and Alonso for instance were quite outspoken of the pace, even though they're far from unhappy with their own cars.

The below chart shows the times of some of the major contenders during the second part of FP2, notably the part where all of them were doing race simulations. On the chart are Vettel (dark blue), Alonso (red), Hamilton (light green), Rosberg (dark green) and Raikkonen (gold).

During this time, Vettel and Rosberg ran the hard tyres, the others on the medium compound. Vettel thereby averaged 1:28.621, Webber 1:29.129, Alonso 1:29.293, Hamilton 1:29.461, Raikkonen 1:29.544 and Rosberg 1:29.149.

Even though fuel loads and engine settings will hide the true performance levels, it may be worrying for Ferrari and Mercedes that the Renault powered Red Bulls appear to have more than half a second in hand on a circuit that traditionally was the weak point for the team. Yet again however, Red Bull is trailing behind in the the top speed charts despite running a very small rear wing.

Time will tell if Lewis Hamilton will be able to get pole for a 5th consecutive time, or if Red Bull will simply confirm what they have shown this early in the Italian Grand Prix weekend.