Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen edged Sebastian Vettel for quickest lap in a rain-hit second free practice session in Malaysia.
Vettel was the early pacesetter with a time of 1:36.588 but half an hour into the afternoon session at the Sepang Circuit Raikkonen delivered a lap just two hundredths of a seconds quicker than the defending champion to annex top spot. Both men had logged their laps on the medium Pirelli tyre as the teams brought out the softer of the two compounds earlier than expected due to the imminent threat of rain.
The showers finally arrived 50 minutes into the session with the result that the field immediately retreated to the garages to consider their options. First out, on intermediates, was Sergio Perez and the downpour abated and a dry line formed the rest followed as the teams gathered valuable information on running in wet conditions.
The track dried quickly, however, and with ten minutes to go the switch was made back to slick tyres. The final minutes saw all cars on track in a frantic bid to gather as much dry-running data as possible but the times remained largely unaffected, with Raikkonen and Vettel holding on to their top two places.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ended the session as third-quickest man and the top five was completed by team-mate Fernando Alonso and Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber, the morning’s quickest man.
It was a tricky afternoon for several drivers, most notably Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez. The Mexican was first forced back to the garage early in the session when his cockpit fire extinguisher went off and then later and more seriously he was sidelined by a broken exhaust. He made it out again at the end of the wet spell to eventually finish 14th.
Adrian Sutil too hit problems and he spent the final half hour out of the car as hit pit crew investigated an oil seal problem with his Force India VJM06.