Felipe Massa put Ferrari on top at the end of Friday’s running in Shanghai.
Second practice began much as the previous session had ended, with the two Mercedes drivers leading the Red Bull pair.
Nico Rosberg looked set to sustain that after switching to soft tyres and easily staying fastest. Mark Webber managed to split the two Mercedes.
But drivers who did their soft tyres runs later were able to find more time. First among those was Massa, whose 1’35.340 put him almost half a second clear of the Mercedes.
The second Ferrari of Fernando Alonso took third place, over four-tenths of a second off his team mate. In between them was Kimi Raikkonen, who found the soft tyres more to his liking than the mediums.
Lewis Hamilton lost time on his soft tyre run as he had to picked his way past Nico Hulkenberg. The Sauber driver was in no mood to be obliging having been held up by Hamilton and Rosberg on his fast lap: “The bloody Mercedes,” he said on the radio, “both of them didn’t get out of the way”.
Most teams completed their soft tyre runs early so they could conduct more extensive evaluations of their race pace. Not everyone liked what they found. “I’ve never seen tyres behave this way,” said Hamilton on the radio. “Do other people have the same degradation?” He was told his team mate’s situation was similar.
But Rob Smedley was far happier with Massa’s race pace. “Compared to the other people on this tyre it’s not good it’s incredible,” he said at one point.
Sergio Perez’s difficult day continued. Having gone off at the end of the first session he had another moment early on in the second, skidding into the gravel.
He wasn’t the only driver to go off during the session. Giedo van der Garde had a lurid high-speed spin at the first corner and Pastor Maldonado also went off during the session.
Max Chilton’s session was wasted as he stopped with an engine problem early on. He eventually rejoined the track only to come to a stop again with just five laps on the board. “We have an engine oil problem again,” said race engineer Gary Gannon, “sorry Max”.
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