Mark Webber edges McLaren duo in Malaysia
Mark Webber saw his practice advantage dramatically slashed in the second session for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, but still emerged as top dog.
Webber finished a staggering 1.6secs clear of Lewis Hamilton in his McLaren after the first 90-minute run at the Sepang circuit, with every other rival over two seconds off the pace of the Red Bull.
The obvious conclusion was that for the majority of the field that first session was all about set up and understanding the tyres in light of the heat and humidity Pirelli had yet to experience on their return to Formula One.
Come the conclusion to the second run, with the track temperature peaking at a scorching 47 degrees Celsius and with an air temperature of 32, Webber again topped the timesheet, but only by 0.005secs.
Webber is naturally keen to put the disappointment of the season-opening race in Australia 12 days ago behind him when he found himself in the shadow of team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Whilst practice generally only offers a guideline as to the weekend to come, it is fair to assume Red Bull and McLaren will likely be fighting over the podium places come Sunday.
Reigning champion Vettel, after his dominant display at Melbourne's Albert Park, finished fourth, 0.214secs behind Webber.
Sandwiched in between the duo were McLaren pair Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the latter 0.134secs adrift of Webber.
As for the rest of the field, they were staring at a yawning gap of over a second to Webber, with Mercedes' Michael Schumacher in fifth and Felipe Massa in his Ferrari sixth, the former team-mates at the Maranello marque separated by just a thousandth of a second.
A further gap of 0.4secs followed to Schumacher's team-mate Nico Rosberg, with fellow German Nick Heidfeld a respectable eighth in light of what unfolded for Renault in the earlier session.
After an investigation by the team, after Heidfeld and team-mate Vitaly Petrov both suffered failures that saw them lose their front-right and front-left tyres respectively, the cause was found to be an issue with the suspension uprights.
Both cars were delayed before they took to the track for the second session as the team exercised every precaution, and thankfully both emerged unscathed.
Petrov, following his third place in Australia, finished in 13th and 2.3secs off Webber.
In between the Renault duo were Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in ninth and the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari in 10th.
The Williams duo of Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello were 11th and 12th, the former after a crash into an advertising hoarding for one of the team's former sponsors.
The rookie Venezuelan strangely lost control of his car on the entry road to the pit lane, but after minor repairs was able to return to the track.
Paul di Resta, who claimed a point on his rookie debut Down Under, again frustratingly for the Scot sat out the first session in favour of reserve Nico Hulkenberg.
But Di Resta at least finished the second session quicker than both Hulkenberg and team-mate Adrian Sutil, although 2.7secs off Webber.
After a suspension failure in first practice that pitched Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio into the gravel at high speed, the Belgian was unable to take part later on as the team failed to complete their repairs in time.
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