After the first session in which Ferrari looked ominously quick, the second Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix delivered a result that was more in keeping with predictions. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took the fastest time, 1:34.395, ahead...
After the first session in which Ferrari looked ominously quick, the second Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix delivered a result that was more in keeping with predictions. McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took the fastest time, 1:34.395, ahead of the Williams of Ralf Schumacher as the Michelin runners got to grips with the track. Jaguar's Mark Webber was third and Michael Schumacher fourth.
The hot, humid conditions continued with air temperature around 37 degrees and track temperature climbing to over 50. After a few installation laps by half the field, BAR third driver Anthony Davidson kicked off proceedings with a 1:36.708. Ralf slotted in behind, followed by the Sauber duo of Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa.
Jarno Trulli was the first Renault in the thick of things as he Ralf traded second fastest, three tenths off Davidson. The Toyota race drivers were quickly on track, as well as a handful of third drivers. The second Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya was in the top six and Jenson Button was out early this time, taking second for BAR, just a tenth down on teammate Davidson.
Rubens Barrichello took over at the top with a 1:36.427, the Ferrari a couple of tenths quicker than the BAR, then Davidson was the first casualty of the weekend. He came to a halt on track in the final sector of the lap. Toyota's Ricardo Zonta took fifth and Webber shifted Barrichello with a 1:36.262, a good effort from the Jaguar. It was short lived as Fernando Alonso put his Renault ahead, 1:35.431.
The two McLarens made the top ten early on and Michael took second from Webber, 0.5 down on Alonso. The Toyota, Sauber and Jordan race drivers were bunched together in the midfield and Minardi was lapping at the back some five seconds off the pace. Fisichella improved to sixth, the best Bridgestone runner after the Ferraris, and Trulli moved up to fifth.
Cristiano da Matta edged into the top ten but was then the next retirement as he spun into the gravel at turn 14. Montoya took over at the top with a 1:35.100, two tenths up on Alonso. The Colombian was immediately eclipsed by teammate Ralf, 1:34.693, the Michelin runners looking much stronger in this session. Christian Klien put his Jaguar up to ninth and Zonta improved to fourth.
Raikkonen set a good lap to take second fastest, the McLaren three tenths off Ralf, and Webber slotted in behind the Finn, deposing Michael for third. Alonso climbed to fifth, having been shuffled down as the top of the times changed, and the second McLaren of David Coulthard took sixth. Takuma Sato crashed out at turn three and had to pit for a new front wing. He returned to the track but then retired with a brake problem.
Barrichello was lapping outside the top ten and it was static at the front midway through the session. There were some slight improvements in the midfield but the second half the practice was very quiet. Olivier Panis moved up to ninth while the Jordans slid towards the bottom of the times.
Raikkonen pulled out a very good lap to take the top, 1:34.395, three tenths up on Ralf. Barrichello shifted himself into the top ten but the final lineup was perhaps a little more what had been expected in Sepang. The Michelin teams took up the challenge, only three Bridgestone runners in the top ten as Massa popped up to seventh in the final minutes.
McLaren appeared stronger than in Melbourne, Williams and Renault in the top eight as expected. Ferrari was not exactly pushing hard in this session and will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with in qualifying. Webber was as competitive as he usually is on a Friday and Massa was the only slight surprise in the top ten. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, R. Schumacher, Webber, M. Schumacher, Montoya, Trulli, Massa, Alonso.