Fernando Alonso took the first steps to making good on his promise to get back in the World Championship fight this weekend, by setting the pace in the largely dry second free practice session for the German Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver enjoyed a brief mid-session battle with his teammate Felipe Massa and Red Bull's Mark Webber, as a sustained patch of drizzle moved away and the track effectively dried out. The times all three set during this period, on the super-soft option tires, were the best they managed and thus they ended the session first, third and fourth in the order.
Splitting them in second was Sebastian Vettel, who recovered from a heart-in-the-mouth moment that saw him run through the gravel at the entry to the stadium. The German, composure restored, then had several attempts at Alonso's 1m16.265s, but simply couldn't quite crack it, eventually settling for a time 0.029sec slower before moving on to the rest of his program.
With Ferrari and Red Bull occupying the top four positions, it was Mercedes that was next fastest with Nico Rosberg ahead of Michael Schumacher. Both drivers damaged their cars during the session, Rosberg breaking a front wing on curb safety cones, while the former four-time winner ran-off track a couple of times and was forced to curtail his program early.
Lewis Hamilton put on an extraordinary performance to go seventh fastest. Having sat out 74 minutes of the session as his team repaired the damage he caused to his MP4-25 in first practice, the 2008 World Champion then put in 10 laps at the end. Steadily improving all the while, his final attempt actually included the fastest middle sector of anyone during practice. Teammate Jenson Button, meanwhile, having done a very long run in the sister car, was 15th.
Robert Kubica fired in a late-ish lap to go eighth quickest for Renault, ahead of Rubens Barrichello, who had another harmless spin in P2, in the otherwise consistent-looking Williams. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 in other FW32.
Adrian Sutil could not match his FP1 pace in the dry and was 14th fastest, while Timo Glock topped the new team times once again for Virgin.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 1:16.265 35
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:16.294 + 0.029 26
3. Massa Ferrari 1:16.438 + 0.173 37
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:16.585 + 0.320 40
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:16.827 + 0.562 32
6. Schumacher Mercedes 1:16.971 + 0.706 20
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.004 + 0.739 10
8. Kubica Renault 1:17.009 + 0.744 37
9. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:17.056 + 0.791 37
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:17.204 + 0.939 44
11. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:17.336 + 1.071 44
12. Petrov Renault 1:17.547 + 1.282 35
13. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:17.573 + 1.308 39
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:17.701 + 1.436 38
15. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.739 + 1.474 36
16. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:17.871 + 1.606 33
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:18.147 + 1.882 45
18. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:19.327 + 3.062 48
19. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:19.553 + 3.288 30
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:20.008 + 3.743 34
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:20.106 + 3.841 31
22. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:20.377 + 4.112 37
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:21.988 + 5.723 37
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:23.066 + 6.801 37
All Timing Unofficial