The rain-affected second practice session in Melbourne ended with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher on top of the time-sheet as the German profited from an emerging dry line in the final 20 minutes.
Torrential rain soaked Albert Park in between the sessions, leaving standing water around the circuit and requiring the full wet tyres as the second session got underway. With good weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday the value of wet running appeared limited, hence few drivers ventured out, but as the track dried the end of the session was very busy. Lap times fell consistently as the track became drier, and Schumacher set fastest lap at the very end of the session.
Schumacher’s last lap took top spot away from compatriot Nico Hulkenberg, though with times tumbling several drivers held the position in the final minutes of the session. Sergio Pérez was third quickest for Sauber. The track was still far from ideal, however, as Pérez’s team-mate Kamui Kobayashi’s proved, spinning as he approaching the finishing line on his last lap. Earlier in the session Pérez himself had been off-track, as had Jean-Eric Vergne, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen.
While downplaying the significance of his time, Schumacher nonetheless professed himself happy with the day. “Today was a nice start into a hopefully exciting season, and certainly two promising sessions for us. However, I would not go so far as to speak about being confident, as the weather conditions were too mixed to gain a clear picture,” said the seven-times world champion, who had been third-quickest in the morning.
“We know what Friday sessions are for and don't know what fuel loads others were running. On the other hand, it is good to see that we were competitive in different circumstances today and that the car provides good handling - I just feel it." With three pole positions and four victories, Schumacher is the most successful driver to have raced at Albert Park.