• Chinese Grand Prix - FP2

Schumacher sets the pace in second practice

ESPNF1 Staff
April 13, 2012
Michael Schumacher made use of the Mercedes straight-line speed advantage to set the fastest time © Sutton Images

Michael Schumacher finished the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix on top as Mercedes continued to gain a significant advantage from its unique DRS system.

Schumacher's time of 1:35.973 was 0.172s faster than FP1 pace-setter Lewis Hamilton even though the McLaren was quicker than the Mercedes in the first two sectors of the lap. On the long straight in the third sector Schumacher clawed back enough time with the Mercedes' impressive top speed to set the fastest time overall.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was just 0.015s off Hamilton after reverting to an old version of the RB8's exhaust layout used during the majority of pre-season testing. After a faulty DRS held him back in FP1, Vettel hit his stride on soft tyres in the afternoon session, setting a time 0.273 faster than his team-mate Mark Webber, who persisted with the Red Bull exhaust layout used at the opening two races.

Nico Rosberg was fifth fastest, 0.644s off his Mercedes team-mate Schumacher but roughly a tenth ahead of the second McLaren of Jenson Button. Kamui Kobayashi maintained Sauber's strong form with the seventh fastest time ahead of respectable laps from the two Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg. Fernando Alonso's prediction that Ferrari is still some way off the pace appeared to be verified as he finished the session in tenth and 1.343s off Schumacher's time.

Rather surprisingly both Lotuses finished outside the top ten with Kimi Raikkonen 13th and Romain Grosjean 15th. The two Williamses were also outside the top ten despite showing strong form at the first two races.

Several drivers continued to make mistakes, especially under braking, and a flat spot on one of Sergio Perez's tyres manifested in a nasty vibration through the front of his car. The biggest incident of the session involved Timo Glock who ran wide at turn one before his front wing appeared to detach itself in the gravel trap.