McLaren attack Red Bull in Malaysian GP practice
Apart from the almost obligatory Red Bull Racing best time – as in the first session, when Mark Webber secured a time of 01:36.876 – the second half of practice in Sepang also had its moments.
The strangest sight was that of Pastor Maldonado, who had an accident whilst returning to the pits. The Williams driver was already heading off in the direction of the pit lane, when he drove onto the grass and spun into the advertising banner. Michael Schumacher just managed to avoid him, and despite hitting the gravel at over 200km/h, managed to regain control.
Jenson Button had a surprise in store for everyone; the McLaren driver was only five thousandths of a second adrift of Webber's best time. Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's number two driver both edged out world champion Sebastian Vettel. This foursome of drivers from Red Bull Racing and McLaren were in a league of their own, and only 0.214 seconds separated them. A fifth-placed Schumacher was as much as 1.212 seconds adrift.
This leads us to believe that Mercedes have at least made some progress again as compared to Melbourne; Schumacher maintained a lead of four-and-a-half tenths of a second on team-mate Nico Rosberg, who secured eighth place. Felipe Massa came home between the two MGP W02s. He was around half a second up on Ferrari team-mate, Fernando Alonso, who was ninth.
Despite experiencing many problems, Nick Heidfeld did very well in the Renault. He and team-mate Vitaly Petrov spent a long time waiting in the pits, because the team first had to find the cause of a suspension defect. And so the two drivers only succeeded in posting a few laps, but nevertheless, Heidfeld finished in the top eight.