Mercedes has returned to the top of the practice timesheets at Friday’s Chinese Grand Prix action was brought to a close today. Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in today’s second free practice session, edging out this morning’s pace-setter, Fernando Alonso, by 0.141 seconds.
Hamilton’s performance was all the more impressive considering his lost track time in both FP1 and FP2, where a minor suspension problem kept him confined to the track while others were circulating the Shanghai International Circuit.
The early running on Pirelli’s Medium tyres saw Alonso head the timesheets from Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo, but when the switch to the ‘option’ tyres came after the half-hour mark, Hamilton took to the track and popped up on top of the timing screens.
Alonso wound up second-quickest at the end of the session to give Ferrari its most encouraging day to-date at a Grand Prix this year, while Rosberg and the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel rounded out the top five.
Felipe Massa improved from FP1 to take his Williams sixth-quickest. The Brazilian finished ahead of former Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen, who managed some proper on-track running after this morning suspension woes to go seventh-fastest.
Jenson Button would have been disappointed to be just eighth-fastest in the leading McLaren – teammate Kevin Magnussen was twelfth – particularly given his best lap was over a second slower than that managed his former teammate Hamilton.
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was an encouraging ninth-fastest, a performance in stark contrast to teammate Pastor Maldonado, who had an error-ridden session. The Venezuelan – who takes a five-place grid penalty this weekend – had an embarrassing crash at pit entry, overcooking it on approach and understeering into the tyre barriers to bring his day to a premature close.
Maldonado wasn’t the only driver to have a few wild moments – although his was the only one that proved terminal. Kamui Kobayashi and Max Chilton each had a spin in their respective cars, although both managed to get going without any damage.
Saturday’s final practice session at Shanghai gets underway at 11:00am local time (GMT +8) before qualifying at 2:00pm.
2014 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results:
Image via XPB Images