Jenson Button tussled mostly with teammate Rubens Barrichello for fast laps during second free practice Friday for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. But a final hard push by Williams F1 No. 1 Nico Rosberg split the Brawn GP drivers to give top three spots to newly endorsed "trick" diffuser runners. Button and Barrichello lead drivers standings after two races.
Button was quickest with a lap of 1 minute, 35.679, followed by Rosberg (1:35.704) and Barrichello (1:35.881), the only runners below the 1:36 mark on the 3.38-mile Shanghai International Circuit.
An International Automobile Federation (FIA) ruling earlier this week on protests over rear diffusers of Brawn, Williams F1 and Toyota cars judged the cars to meet technical regulations.
Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were next quick, followed by Jarno Trulli of Toyota, Kazuki Nakajima of Williams F1, Timo Glock of Toyota, Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren Mercedes, and Sebastien Bourdais of Scuderia Toro Rosso in the first 10.
Although he spun as the checkered flag ended the second practice session of the day, Adrian sutil of Force India was 11th-fastest, ahead of Felipe Massa of Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren, who was quickest in the first session, Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, Sebastien Buemi of Toro Rosso, Nelson Piquet of Renault, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber, Fernando Alonso of Renault, and Giancarlo Fisichella of Force India.
Alonso in particular was vocal in Thursday interviews that tire compounds supplied by Bridgestone, medium and supersoft, were daft for the track. The double world champion reckoned the soft versions would last perhaps six laps, making a joke of the competition and endangering drivers as some runners would lose five or six seconds a lap once the soft tires had gone off. Sanctioning body the FIA directed a policy of two categories separating tire compounds for each 2009 race weekend as another means to improve competition.
As it was, Massa struggled with graining on the hard compound. As times indicated, tires weren't the only problems for the world constructors champions. The team, which shook up its staff this week, ditched the problematic kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) units, hoping the weight reduction could improve tire performance.
McLaren is running with KERS. BMW Sauber is spiltting KERS use. Heidfeld yes, Kubica no. KERS is an option this season.
Hamilton's MP4-24 sported a new front wing and a different diffuser for first practice. Toro Rosso ran Red Bull's sharkfin. Both Ferrari drivers had brake lockups. Trulli was fastest early in the sesson before going off with possible hydraulics probs. Hamilton and Kovalainen were one-two halfway through session. Massa spun with less than a half-hour to go.