Mark Webber fastest in practice for German Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso was forced to play the role of filling in a Red Bull sandwich at the end of second practice for this weekend's German Grand Prix.

Alonso topped the timesheet in the morning session as his momentum following his British Grand Prix success 12 days ago spilled over onto the Nurburgring but then the double world champion had to settle for second-best in the 90-minute afternoon run.

The Spaniard had continued to lead the way up until around 20 minutes to go when Mark Webber, who grabbed his maiden pole and win on this circuit two years ago, set the pace.

The 34-year-old Australian edged out Alonso by 0.168 seconds in setting a time of one minute 31.711 seconds for the 3.198-mile track that nestles in the shadow of the Eifel mountains.

Webber's time was apparently set with his car in qualifying trim, although it is almost certain there will still be more to come.

Behind Alonso was reigning champion Sebastian Vettel, who leads this year's title race by 80 points.

The 24-year-old, chasing his first win on home soil, found himself a third of a second behind Webber, with Felipe Massa completing the top four in the second Ferrari, as he did earlier in the day.

The Mercedes duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, who had complained of a lack of balance in the morning, appeared to find a more stable car beneath them in the second session.

The seven-times champion and his team-mate improved to fifth and sixth on the timesheet, the former just 0.7secs off Webber.

As for McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, it appeared to be another troubled day for them and the team.

Button tried out a new rear wing in the morning and then a new exhaust in the afternoon but it is understood neither device offered any improvement.

With Hamilton running a normal-spec car, the 26-year-old was down in seventh place, a second off the pace, with Button 11th after the team called him in early due to the exhaust issue.

The Renault pair of Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov, both running a new exhaust on their cars that has replaced the formerly innovative mid-section system, were a reasonably competitive eighth and ninth, around 1.4secs down.

Force India's Adrian Sutil was 10th, with team-mate Paul di Resta 12th following his first running on the circuit having made way for reserve Nico Hulkenberg in the morning.

Di Resta again performed admirably in comparison to Sutil, one of six Germans making up a quarter of the field these days in F1, as he trailed by just 0.088secs.

At the bottom of the standings were Hispania Racing's Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastien Buemi in his Toro Rosso, both of whom suffered engine issues, with the latter unable to set a time.