Ferrari tests constant exhaust gas system
Massa plays down Ferrari's pace
Button keen to run McLaren blown diffuser
Webber expects competitive weekend
Driver reaction after friday practice
- German Grand Prix
- FIA Formula One World Championship
Ferrari made a welcome return to the top of the timesheets as teams enjoyed a drier Hockenheim circuit during the second session of free practice for the German Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso, who remains bullish about his title prospects, clocked a best effort of 1:16.265 to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettel, team-mate Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.
A drier track greeted the drivers for the afternoon's second practice session and morning pace-setter Adrian Sutil maintained his form on his home circuit, lowering the benchmark to 1:19.663.
Half an hour into the session, however, rain started to fall, prompting several cars to slither around with greater regularity in the fear that another deluge might hit the track. Sebastian Vettel was one such high-profile name to fall foul of the conditions, the German doing well to avoid the tyre barrier after clattering across the gravel trap.
The brief shower was over almost as soon as it begun, allowing teams to try softer compounds as the lap times improved further.
Lewis Hamilton was one of the day's biggest losers, the championship leader finishing seventh quickest but only managing only a handful of laps on hard tyres after damaging his McLaren in the opening session. And Jenson Button could only manage the 15th fastest time as he again struggled for rear grip with the new blown diffuser.
The lack of running and rather disappointing lap times will leave McLaren with much to ponder before Saturday's crucial qualifying session. Overnight they will have to make a decision whether to use the blown diffuser or opt for the tried-and-tested standard floor used at every other race this season.
The Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were closely matched, the younger German edging his team-mate by 0.15 seconds. Schumacher looks more competitive than at Silverstone two weeks ago, but was still pushing to the limit and had his session cut short due to damage to the car after one of his trips across the gravel.
Renault's Robert Kubica resumed his normal position in the top 10 on Friday, albeit further down the order than usual in eighth. He was just ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, the Williams duo confirming the strong pace of their car.
At the tail of the field Timo Glock was the fastest driver of the new teams, just a couple of tenths of a second off Jaime Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso. At the very bottom of the timesheets Sakon Yamamoto was over a second off HRT team-mate Bruno Senna. Yamamoto is subbing in for Karun Chandhok this weekend after replacing Senna at Silverstone.