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.

Maldonado embarrassingly crashed out at pit entry

Pastor Maldonado embarrassingly crashed his Lotus out at pit entry

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:

Driver Team / Entry Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:38.315 25
2. Fernando Alonso Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:33.456 + 0.141 28
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05 1:38.726 + 0.411 30
4. Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:38.811 + 0.409 30
5. Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10 1:39.015 + 0.700 31
6. Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:39.118 + 0.803 25
7. Kimi Räikkönen Scuderia Ferrari F14T 1:39.283 + 0.968 25
8. Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:39.491 + 1.176 29
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:39.537 + 1.222 36
10. Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:39.648 + 1.333 26
11. Nico Hülkenberg Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:39.736 + 1.421 30
12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 1:39.744 + 1.429 29
13. Jean-Éric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9 1:39.759 + 1.444 28
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36 1:39.830 + 1.515 25
15. Sergio Pérez Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07 1:40.124 + 1.809 32
16. Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:40.359 + 2.044 32
17. Adrian Sutil Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33 1:40.395 + 2.080 30
18. Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team Renault E22 1:40.455 + 2.140 12
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:42.327 + 4.012 27
20. Max Chilton Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03 1:43.473 + 5.158 30
21. Kamui Kobayashi jp Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:43.530 + 5.215 32
22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05 1:43.679 + 5.364 32

Image via XPB 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.

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