Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes atop the timesheets in Friday afternoon’s second free practice session for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver delivered a fastest time of 1:39.909 on the Pirelli Medium tyre, narrowly edging out Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg’s best effort came towards the end of his run on Pirelli’s Hard compound tyre, which preceded many runners switching to the softer ‘Option’ compound to attempt longer runs in readiness for Sunday’s race.

But the high ambient and track temperatures played havoc for many drivers, with a number proving vocal in their complaints about rapid tyre wear and fading grip.

Rosberg’s teammate and Friday morning pace-setter Lewis Hamilton made it a 1-2 on the timesheets at around the halfway mark, but improved efforts from Räikkönen and Vettel proved enough to split the pair on the timesheets. The Englishman had looked set to be quickest of all, but fluffed his middle sector time.

Both Ferraris finished inside the top-five on the timesheets for the first time this season, with Fernando Alonso narrowly edging out his old teammate, Felipe Massa, who is now with Williams.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh-fastest, three-tenths off Rosberg’s ultimate pace, although his session featured a wild slide through the Turn 10/11 right-hander’s gravel trap in the final seconds of play.

Jenson Button – now sporting the traditional ‘Trident’ nose on his McLaren MP4-29 – was ninth-quickest, three spots ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen, who found himself struggling in the boiling conditions. The pair sandwiched the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas, Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Éric Vergne.

Vergne was one of a number of drivers to have ‘moments’ in the session as many drivers again found themselves engaging in the age-old debate of just how much grip, manageable car set-up and talent they had at their disposal. The Frenchman had a quick spin at the final corner, the same turn where Hülkenberg also found himself having a wobble through the gravel trap.

Max Chilton was another driver to lose control, putting down too much throttle and looping his Marussia into a spin and stall in the opening moments of the session. The marshals were able to recover his car back to the pits, and he was able to manage some later running.

Lotus’ nightmare was once again in evidence, to the point that it’s almost no longer news. Pastor Maldonado failed to make it out on track after being struck with a number of engine mapping issues, while teammate Romain Grosjean was beset by gearbox issues, which forced his second early stoppage of the day. Kamui Kobayashi also failed to make it out onto the track, with his Caterham hit with a recurrent energy store problem that also plagued his car in the morning’s session.

The cars have one final practice hit-out on Saturday – kicking off at 1:00pm local time (GMT +8) – before the qualifying action gets underway later in the afternoon.

2014 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:39.909 30
2. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:39.944 + 0.035 30
3. Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:39.970 + 0.061 30
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:40.051 + 0.142 32
5. Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:40.103 + 0.194 29
6. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:40.112 + 0.203 34
7. Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:40.276 + 0.367 29
8. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:40.628 + 0.719 28
9. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:40.638 + 0.729 35
10. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:40.691 + 0.782 34
11. Jean-Éric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:40.777 + 0.868 33
12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:41.014 + 1.105 20
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:41.257 + 1.348 28
14. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:41.325 + 1.416 32
15. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:41.407 + 1.498 34
16. Sergio Pérez Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:41.671 + 1.762 25
17. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:42.531 + 2.622 14
18. Max Chilton Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:43.638 + 3.729 20
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:43.752 + 3.843 29
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:45.703 + 5.794 31
21. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 no time 0
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 no time 0

Image via Sutton Images

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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.