Having made a solid start to the weekend, McLaren looked better suited to the Albert Park circuit than it had at Bahrain, with Lewis Hamilton leading a McLaren 1-2 in Friday’s second free practice session at the Australian Grand Prix.
Typical Melbourne conditions hit the circuit for the second session, and the city’s catch cry of “four seasons in one day” certainly rang true here. After bright and sunny conditions in the first session, the clouds gathered and light showers started only five minutes before the pit lane opened.
A heavy downpour followed, and while it passed through just as quickly, the track dried and gave the drivers a fifteen-minute window of dry running before the precipitation returned once again.
This first period of dry running saw Nico Rosberg leap to the top of the timesheets, before quickly being toppled by the McLaren pair of Button, and then Hamilton.
Right at the point where it looked like it was going to get interesting, the rain returned and everyone scurried back to the garages.
When the second lot of rain eventually abated, there was just 10 minutes of the session left.
As virtually the entire field went out on track, it was going to be a case of who could manage their tyre temperatures and the traffic better than the others.
Sebastian Vettel also attempted to move up the order with a hot lap, but found himself baulked by Alonso’s Ferrari in the final sector, and then spinning into the gravel at Turn 6 when he put a wheel on the grass.
The final minutes saw Button and Hamilton battle it out for top honours – and psychologically, crucial bragging rights in the intra-team battle – but both were badly held up by Pedro de la Rosa’s Sauber, with the Spaniard gormlessly hogging the racing line as the faster cars came up on him.
Of the rookies, only Lotus managed any quantifiable running of the three teams. Heikki landed up 18th on the timesheets – ahead of Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, no less – while Trulli was 20th and reporting an engine mapping problem.
With his gearbox oil leak repaired, Timo Glock ventured out for some late laps in the Virgin Cosworth, while Lucas di Grassi only posted installation laps.
Having made progress in the first session, HRT had another troublesome practice session with nether driver completing a lap: Karun Chandhok ground to a halt after leaving the pit lane (loss of drive) and Bruno Senna was confined to the pit lane for the entire session with a fuel pressure problem.
2010 Australian GP Practice 2 Session Times:
[Images via GP Update]