Nico Rosberg continued Mercedes' dominance on Friday as he topped the second practice, though Sebastian Vettel joined Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Lewis Hamilton in fourth.
Hamilton started the session quicker than Rosberg but seemed to be in fuel-save mode by the end of his quickest stint, having to settle with fourth 0.142s behind his team-mate after topping the first practice session. Kimi Raikkonen repeated his performance from that session and finished 0.035s behind Rosberg, but it was the performance of Sebastian Vettel which caught the eye.
Vettel enjoyed a marked improvement from the opening session, going third 0.061s behind Rosberg on his second flier on the medium tyre. Daniel Ricciardo finished down in seventh and ran wide at Turn 11 in the closing seconds of the session. Despite telling the pit wall about concerns about the rear tyres during his longer stint, Vettel's pace showed Red Bull is making good inroads on Mercedes at this stage, while the team seems better prepared to manage the tyres than some of its rivals. Notably Raikkonen was struggling badly with degradation by the end of the session.
There was little change to the timesheets after the opening 45 minutes as the drivers focussed on longer runs on the harder and the medium compounds. Grip issues continued slightly from the earlier session, with Max Chilton spinning in an unusual place on the approach to Turn Three early on. Jean-Eric Vergne also got out of shape coming out of the final corner, but overall it seemed the drivers were a lot more comfortable than they had been in FP1.
Though Williams perhaps did not show its true hand once again, Valtteri Bottas accumulated 35 laps, more than anyone else on the race track, while Massa finished in sixth, behind former team-mate Fernando Alonso. Down the grid, Kamui Kobayashi missed the session after Caterham was unable to rectify issues from earlier.
A frustrating day continued for Lotus, as Pastor Maldonado's car remained in the garage throughout the session. Romain Grosjean at least managed to record a lap time but soon had issues of his own, getting stuck in second gear and having to return to the pits. He returned to the track later but the same issue returned 18 minutes from the end, but this time was unable to return to the pit lane.
Well it's a definite swipe left to today's proceedings. Arse. You can quote us on that.— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) March 28, 2014