Schumacher Leads On Friday Afternoon in Australia


Michael Schumacher - Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Michael Schumacher - Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

 

Michael Schumacher timed his final run to perfection to set the fastest lap of the afternoon at Albert Park. As in FP1, the session ended with a rapidly drying track and the 43 year old sneaked ahead of Nico Hulkenberg's Force India in the dying seconds.

Heavy rain fell in between the two sessions, leaving the track as wet as it had been all day, and only the two Toro Rosso drivers deemed it suitable for running on full wet tyres early on. Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo traded fastest times before the big guns took over on intermediates. Fernando Alonso clocked a 1:42.171 which was quickly bettered by his teammate Felipe Massa while Jenson Button and Schumacher also took turns at the top.

Sergio Perez eventually got the target time down to a 1:37.189 but conditions were now heading towards slicks and everybody retreated to the pits to plan a late run on dry tyres. Narain Karthikeyan was the first to take the plunge and the HRT looked decidedly edgy but that didn't put off Sebastian Vettel who took a second off Perez's time.

With ten minutes remaining, the session turned into a free-for-all with unfamiliar names appearing at the top of the timesheets. Romain Grosjean had a brief stint out front with Timo Glock shooting up to third in the Marussia while both Force Indias also threatened a giantkilling act.

Hulkenberg would be denied by his idol with Schumacher clocking a 1:29.183, 1.6 seconds slower than the quickest time this morning, but still good enough to edge out Hulkenberg. Perez climbed back up to third late on ahead of Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi who had a miraculous escape when his Sauber snapped out of control exiting the final corner, somehow avoiding the wall.

Paul Di Resta was sixth while Felipe Massa stayed out of trouble to take seventh ahead of the impressive Heikki Kovalainen, eighth fastest in the Caterham. Nico Rosberg had to make do with ninth while the Red Bulls quietly went about their business, finishing 10th and 11th with Sebastian Vettel the quicker of the two.

Timo Glock was a sensation 12th at the end of Marussia's first day of running with their 2012 challenger while McLaren went from first and second FP1 to 15th and 16th in FP2, and more will be expected of them tomorrow.