Mark Webber was quickest again in Sepang following the second free practice, although the apparent advantage was cut down from the opening session.
After a – lap session, the Red Bull driver assumed the head of the time sheets with a best of 1:36.876 as he headed the McLaren pair of Jenson Button (2nd) and Lewis Hamilton (3rd).
Button was the busier of the two silver and red cars, having registered – laps in his MP4-26, following several short runs.
While the McLaren’s closed much of the gap to the top spot (Button was 0.005 slower than Webber and Hamilton one-tenth slower), it is still raises questions regarding fuel load differences.
Sebastian Vettel was next up on the time sheets. His quickest run was 0.214 shy of Webber, although the reigning Champion ran a number of longer stints, showing some decent high fuel pace.
A large gap followed to Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes – one second of a difference in fact. The veteran headed his younger teammate, Nico Rosberg (7th), although the Mercedes pair appeared to suffer some dramatic tyre drop-off, despite having cured some of their balance issues.
Splitting the pair was Ferrari’s Felipe Massa – his fastest lap of 1:38.089 was good enough for a top-six placing.
Both Renault’s eventually took to the circuit following a tough first session riddled with failures. Vitaly Petrov emerged after 45 minutes, with Nick Heidfeld taking to the circuit with a half-hour remaining.
Heidfeld would prove to be quickest of the pair. A fast lap of 1:38.570 placed the German veteran just behind Rosberg, while Petrov slotted in 13th, albeit 2.3 seconds down on Webber.
Williams’ Pastor Maldonado registered a quicker time than veteran teammate Rubens Barrichello, however the Venezuelan suffered a deal of embarrassment went he pitched his FW33 into the barrier’s entering the pitlane.
The session was rather better for those at the rear of the field, bar a few bumps in the road. Timo Glock (Virgin) jumped Jarno Trulli’s Lotus, with Glock getting to within four seconds of the leading Red Bull. Unfortunately, Glock’s teammate – Jerome d’Ambrosio lost the second session due to his first practice crash, whiel Heikki Kovalainen in the second Lotus only completed four laps.
Narain Karthikeyan also put in a relatively decent pace for the Hispania team, despite having little running in the morning, although Vitantonio Liuzzi lost a good deal of time following an electrical issue.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.876s 24 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.881s + 0.005 30 3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m37.010s + 0.134 23 4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.090s + 0.214 30 5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.088s + 1.212 26 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.089s + 1.213 31 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.565s + 1.689 25 8. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m38.570s + 1.694 16 9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m38.583s + 1.707 27 10. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m38.846s + 1.970 31 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m38.968s + 2.092 25 12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m39.187s + 2.311 30 13. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m39.267s + 2.391 17 14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.398s + 2.522 29 15. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.603s + 2.727 34 16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m39.625s + 2.749 31 17. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m39.809s + 2.933 28 18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m40.115s + 3.239 31 19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m40.866s + 3.990 24 20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m41.890s + 5.014 19 21. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m43.197s + 6.321 15 22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m43.991s + 7.115 14 23. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m44.886s + 8.010 4