Formula 1

Maldonado On Top As Rain Spoils Second Practice

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Pastor Maldonado was the driver in the right place at the right time to go quickest in a second practice session which started and ended in heavy rain. The Venezuelan set a 1:27.476 on intermediates in the driest part of the session to outpace two of the home favourites, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg was one of the first drivers to brave the conditions at the start of the session and the Mercedes man exchanged fastest times with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. With half an hour of track time completed, Fernando Alonso had taken over at the top but Rosberg had decided the circuit was ready for intermediates and dived into the pits. On his first flying lap, Nico regained top spot which was the cue for everyone else to switch to inters.

The names at the top of the timing screen were now changing by the second as Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton had brief spells in front. With just over half an hour to go, Hamilton was beaten by Vettel while Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen also went quicker, but Vettel was first into the 1:28s.

For the first time in the session, Jenson Button leapt to the top of the order with a 1:28.516 and the McLaren driver instantly decided to have a go on slicks, pitting on his next lap. By this time, he'd been bumped down to eighth as the times continued to tumble and Maldonado was now the pacesetter in the mid-1:27s. Any hopes of some dry running were soon extinguished though as the heavens opened once again, sending the drivers and spectators running for cover.

Some drivers did venture back out again on intermediates but two men would rather they hadn't. Daniel Ricciardo locked up his front wheels under braking for the Sachs Kurve, getting his Toro Rosso beached in the gravel but Michael Schumacher had a far bigger problem. The seven-time champion got a wheel on the white line coming through the Mobil 1 Kurve and spun across the grass into the wall, heavily damaging the rear end of his Mercedes.

The red flags came out, bringing the session to an end four minutes early, and Maldonado finished as the fastest man ahead of Rosberg and Vettel, although the morning times were some eleven seconds quicker. Sergio Perez took fourth ahead of Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Button with Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen completing the top ten.

Jean-Eric Vergne was eleventh ahead of Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi with Charles Pic and Timo Glock lifting Marussia into the lofty positions of fourteenth and fifteenth. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso lost out in the changing conditions, finishing down in nineteenth and twentieth while Michael Schumacher was second from last after his crash.

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