But unlike the first practice session – where he was quickest to the tune of almost two seconds – the Australian was given a serious run for his money by Jenson Button, who took his McLaren around the circuit just five-thousandths of a second slower than Webber’s best effort of the ninety-minute session.
In contrast to the first session’s spread of times where three seconds covered the top-ten on the timesheets, the gap had been trimmed to two seconds in the second session, with the top four drivers separated by less than a quarter of a second. Behin Button, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel completed a Red Bull and McLaren sweep of the top-four positions, which Michael Schumacher was the fastest driver outside this quartet – albeit a full second slower – in fifth.
Afternoon rain was expected to his the circuit today, but it stayed away from Sepang and gave the teams more time to evaluate the wear characteristics of the Pirelli tyres, which were being run in properly hot conditions for the first time this year.
Several teams were hoping this session would provide more mileage after a troubled opening practice session, and Renault was top of that list after losing both cars to sudden front wheel failure around the brake hubs of their R31 challengers. Despite the lengthy repairs being carried out to both Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov’s cars, they managed a combined total of 33 laps by the end of the session, with Heidfeld finishing the session eighth-fastest.
Another team hoping for more mileage was Hispania Racing, whose drivers suffered a reversal in fortune in contrast to the morning’s session, which saw Narain Karthikeyan grind to a halt with an engine problem. This time, the Indian driver managed more miles in the F111 – although it was still heavily afflicted by smoker’s cough – while team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi lost track mileage when his car stopped with an electrical problem.
The session saw the first running of the softer-compound tyres, with drivers lapping some eight seconds a lap slower than the benchmark pace when running with some fuel onboard.
2011 Malaysian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Renault RB7||1:36.876||24|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.005||30|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-26||+ 0.134||23|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault RB7||+ 0.214||30|
|5.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.212||26|
|6.||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.213||31|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP W02||+ 1.689||25|
|8.||Nick Heidfeld||Renault R31||+ 1.694||16|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari F150° Italia||+ 1.707||27|
|10.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 1.970||31|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.092||25|
|12.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams Cosworth FW33||+ 2.311||30|
|13.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault R31||+ 2.391||17|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.522||29|
|15.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C30||+ 2.727||34|
|16.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.749||31|
|17.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM04||+ 2.933||28|
|18.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6||+ 3.239||31|
|19.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||+ 3.990||24|
|20.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus Renault T128||+ 5.014||19|
|21.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 6.321||15|
|22.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT F1 Cosworth F111||+ 7.115||14|
|23.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus Renault T128||+ 8.010||4|
|24.||Jérôme d’Ambrosio||Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR-02||no time||0|