Lewis Hamilton again set the pace in practice at Malaysia - Sebastian Vettel was left 'not entirely happy' with his day's work

Lewis Hamilton has continued his Friday practice form into the day’s second session of running at the Malaysian Grand Prix by posting the fastest overall time. While the much-expected rain actually stayed in the clouds instead of on the track, the Englishman led a Mercedes-powered 1-2-3-4 on the timesheets.

Concerns over the day’s second ninety-minute session being hit by wet weather proved to be surprisingly unfounded, as the track remained bone dry throughout. Conditions were as hot and humid as ever, and the teams’ mechanics were kept busy clearing the radiator intakes of any grass brought in by the occasional off-track excursion.

Both HRT drivers had their own moments during the session, with Pedro de la Rosa having a spin at Turn 4, before team-mate Narain Karthikeyan has his own spin at the imagelast corner just before the session ended. Pleasingly for the Spanish squad – which had failed to qualify either of its drivers at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix – both Karthikeyan and de la Rosa posted times well within the session’s theoretical 107% time, which should indicate that making the grid for Sunday’s race might not prove to be quite the hurdle that everyone had anticipated.

The session gave the drivers at McLaren, Mercedes and Toro Rosso plenty of cause to smile, with their drivers occupying the top-eight positions on the timesheets at the end of the session.

Contrastingly, it was a more worrying time in the sister Red Bull Racing camp. Mark Webber finished the session seventh-fastest, while a “not entirely happy” Vettel finished tenth-fastest. The team had spent some time concentrating on its long-run pace, the area it feels it is currently on-par with rivals McLaren.

Sixth-quickest in the session was Fernando Alonso, but he had to really work for his position on the timesheets – he finished 0.7 seconds down on his soft-tyre run, which was still slower than the fastest harder-compound lap-times clocked by Lewis Hamilton.

Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa was again buried down the order, with the Brazilian over a second slower than his two-time champion team-mate. Performances like this will not do his short-term prospects with the team any favours, with rumours already swirling that he will be dumped before the year is out.

Mercedes' 'W-Duct' intakes were on showAnother team with room to improve was Lotus, which had shown good pace in the first practice session, but seemed to lose ground in the late afternoon running. Having suffered from his wheel issue in the first practice session, Romain Grosjean returned to the action and finished the session ninth-fastest, while team-mate Kimi Räikkönen was just fifteenth, although insisting that there was more speed to come from the black-and-gold E20 challenger.

Widely considered to be one of the gentlest cars on Pirelli’s tyres last year, Sauber struggled with tyre degradation in this session, and its nervous C31 chassis seemed ill-suited to Sepang’s high-speed sweeps in today’s running. After finishing well down the order in the opening session, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez improved slightly, but still ended up 14th and 18th-fastest, respectively.

2012 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:38.172   28
2. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:38.533 + 0.361 34
3. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:38.535 + 0.363 29
4. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:38.696 + 0.524 34
5. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:38.853 + 0.681 33
6. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:38.891 + 0.719 27
7. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.133 + 0.961 29
8. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:39.297 + 1.125 33
9. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:39.311 + 1.139 22
10. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:39.402 + 1.230 25
11. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:39.444 + 1.272 35
12. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.464 + 1.292 26
13. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:39.625 + 1.453 20
14. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:39.687 + 1.515 16
15. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:39.696 + 1.524 29
16. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:40.271 + 2.099 27
17. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:40.678 + 2.506 34
18. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:40.947 + 2.775 33
19. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:41.464 + 3.292 25
20. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:41.681 + 3.509 20
21. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:42.594 + 4.422 18
22. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:42.874 + 4.702 24
23. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:43.658 + 5.486 18
24. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:43.823 + 5.561 22

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.