Malaysian GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
McLaren closes the gap at Sepang
Mark Webber (1:36.876) improved his morning time by almost a second to finish the first day of free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on top of the time sheets. The margin was much narrower this time, however, with McLaren's Jenson Button (1:36.881) ending up just five thousandths of a second slower than the Red Bull pace.
Lewis Hamilton (1:37.101) was just over a tenth slower than his team mate and eight hundredths quicker than world champion Sebastian Vettel (1:37.090) with the second Red Bull.
There was then a gap of almost a full second to Michael Schumacher's fifth-placed Mercedes (1:38.089), the seven times champion just a thousandth quicker than Felipe Massa (1:38.089). The Brazilian was the quicker of the Ferrari drivers as Fernando Alonso (1:38.583) ended up half a second shy, the pair split by Nico Rosberg (1:38.565) with the second Mercedes and Nick Heidfeld's 1:38.570 in the Renault. The top 10 was rounded out by Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso (1:38.846).
The Williams pair were next, with Pastor Maldonado (1:38.968) ending the session in front of Rubens Barrichello (1:39.187) despite bringing his 90 minutes to a premature end when he spun in the pitlane and damaged the car's nose.
After their morning problems, Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov were late starters in FP2 with the Renaults and got in just 33 laps between them, while Jerome D'Ambrosio did not appear with the Virgin after his incident in the morning, which the team put down to a suspension problem.
After the Melbourne debacle it was a better day for HRT. Narain Karthikeyan lapped in 1:43.197, which was 0.3s within the notional 107% cut-off time using Webber's session best as the benchmark. In reality, achieving the 107% time in qualifying should be slightly easier as the top cars tend not to use the softer Pirelli tyres in FP1, which should bring the target time further within reach.