Felipe Massa led the way in FP2 at the Chinese Grand Prix after the Ferrari driver set a scorching pace on the option tyres during the 90 minute session. The Brazilian however was far from a one lap specialist this afternoon as he also set good pace on his longer runs and was one of the drivers able to make best use of his Pirelli rubber.
The session was dominated by drivers complaining about tyre wear and graining as their longer runs proceeded and there was plenty of action in the session as drivers struggled for grip.
Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Giedo van der Garde all had spins during the session. Locking up the fronts under braking was also a recurring theme during the afternoon with Jenson Button suffering the worst fate. The Englishman locked up heavily under braking to the hairpin and the damage to his tyre was so extensive that he had to pit with a puncture.
As ever the afternoon session saw drivers start to push for faster times on the option tyres in the early stages before focusing on longer stints in the second half of the session. Nico Rosberg, who dominated the opening practice session, shot to the top of the timesheets when he first used fresh option tyres but ultimately fell back to fourth position as Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso outpaced him.
Once the longer runs started however the pace and consistency of the Ferrari was very impressive. That Massa got to the top of the times was promising for the team but he was also able to eek more like from the tyre on longer stints than his rivals on the harder, prime tyres later as the session progressed.
With so many drivers complaining about tyre wear it will have given Ferrari a major confidence boast to set competitive times in race trim. The Red Bull’s seemed focused on race trim today with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel both looking to be carrying a lot of fuel on their long runs. Webber would end the session sixth fastest with Vettel tenth.
Force India repeated their FP1 performance by having both cars in the top ten this afternoon with Sutil again out performing di Resta. Further down the field Perez, who spun in the pitlane to close out the opening session, was 11th and looked more comfortable with the car in the afternoon but still had a spin and lightly touched the barriers.
Jules Bianchi continues to impress with the Marussia driver less than half a second adrift of Pastor Maldonado. The Frenchman would finish the session in his customary 19th spot but showed again that he has the talent to challenge the more established teams at this early point of the season.