China – Practice 2 – Schumacher on top, Ferrari struggle
Michael Schumacher topped the times in second practice for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. After a damp morning session, which saw Lewis Hamilton a full second clear of the field, the afternoon was dry, and Schumacher made the most of it to finish two tenths up on the McLaren driver.
The Mercedes DRS has dominated the headlines this weekend, with Lotus lodging an official protest against the system on Thursday. The FIA unanimously dismissed the protest, which will be gratifying to Mercedes, but also means that the other teams now need to find a way to bridge the gap to Mercedes in qualifying. Schumacher qualified fourth in Australia and third in Malaysia. His form this weekend so far suggests that there could be a Mercedes on the front row of the grid for the first time since 2010.
Further down the field, Fernando Alonso’s predictions appear to be coming true. The Spaniard expects Ferrari to struggle to make the top ten in qualifying, a fear that is supported by their practice times. Alonso and Massa were 11th and 12th respectively in the morning session, and finished 10th and 17th in the afternoon session. All the signs point to another difficult weekend for the Scuderia.
The man to watch for qualifying will, as ever, be Lewis Hamilton. He potentially faces a five-place grid penalty if McLaren decide to change his gearbox, and will want to minimise the penalty by qualifying as well as possible. After topping first practice and finishing second in the afternoon session, Hamilton seems well on course to achieve that aim.