Chinese GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
Shanghai Master Massa
Felipe Massa mastered the Shanghai circuit and set the fastest time in the second free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix. His teammate Fernando Alonso was third quickest. Kimi Raikkonen, second quickest in his Lotus, was in between the Ferrari sandwich.
Esteban Gutierrez got things rolling in the second session by being the first out of pit lane in his Sauber. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Max Chilton (Marussia) were next out on the track
The track temperature was 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) and the ambient temperature was 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius.)
Vergne went to the top of the time sheets with a 1:40.951. But it was Lewis Hamilton who threw down the gauntlet by posting a 1:37.935, only to be beaten by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg who clocked a 1:37.669.
McLaren brought a number of updates for their car as the team continues to try to get the MP4-28 up to speed. Sporting director Sam Michael said they had gotten through about 40 percent of their program in the morning session, and the work continued in FP2.
The session was only eight minutes old when Chilton parked his Marussia at Turn 5 with a mechanical problem.
Sergio Perez went off the track after he spun at Turn 12, but he regained control of his McLaren and headed for the pits. Then Adrian Sutil spun off at Turn 8 in his Force India.
Meanwhile, Rosberg had lowered the fastest lap to a 1:37.463, and Hamilton turned a 1:37.552 for second place.
The spins continued as Guido van der Garde had a quick off at Turn 2 in his Caterham.
Everybody had been running the medium compound Pirelli slick, but twenty minutes into the session the Mercedes pit radioed Hamilton to come in for a set of the "option" soft compound tires. Other drivers were also switching over to the softs.
The Mercedes duo continued to lower their times. Rosberg set a 1:36.730 and Hamilton a 1:36.794. They were well clear of Fernando Alonso, third in his Ferrari with a 1:37.298.
But then, 23 minutes into the session, Mark Webber clocked a 1:36.092 in his Red Bull to take top honors on the timing board. Six minutes later, Rosberg beat that with a 1:35.819.
At the one-third mark of the 90 minute session the top six were: Rosberg, Webber, Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), and Ferrari teammates Alonso and Felipe Massa.
With some of the drivers running the yellow sidewall soft tires and others the white sidewall medium compounds, it meant that their respective lap times differed and that juggled the running order.
Missing from the fray was Valtteri Bottas because his Williams was still undergoing repairs in the garage. Perez's McLaren was also undergoing repairs after his earlier off-track excursion.
Sebastian Vettel had been out of the top six, but he remedied that 40 minutes into the session with a 1:36.791 to put his Red Bull into fourth place. Three minutes later, Massa jumped to the top with a 1:35.340 on the soft tires.
The Lotus drivers had been running the medium compounds. With a set of softs, Kimi Raikkonen raced up to second with a time of 1:35.492.
After a discussion on the radio, Jenson Button and the McLaren team decided to pit and prepare for some long runs. Webber and Rosberg were already doing the same thing, with heavy fuel loads and the medium tire, as they worked on getting data for the 56-lap race. Lap times on the medium tires that were over 10 laps old were in the 1:43 range for the top drivers.
With 30 minutes remaining, the top six were: Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso, Rosberg, Webber and Button.
Bottas was out on the track now, but the other drivers, except for Chilton and Perez, had 10 or more laps more running than he did. So it was catch-up time for the Finn and the Williams team.
With 19 minutes to go, Massa had a wild moment in the final turn as his Ferrari nearly snapped away from him.
Vettel, who had locked up his tires on several occasions, was still having problems with the balance of his Red Bull. With 15 minutes remaining, he was down in 10th place.
With eight minutes to go, Chilton pulled off the track again as the oil pressure problems continued to haunt his Marussia.
The session wound down with most drivers doing long runs on either the medium tire or soft tires.
The top six at the end of the FP2 session remained as they were 30 minutes earlier: Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso, Rosberg, Webber and Button.