Lewis Hamilton wrested the initiative back from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to return Mercedes to the top of the timesheets at the end of Friday practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton in action yesterday. Pic/AFP
Hamilton, lapped the 5.4 km Shanghai International Circuit in one minute 38.315 seconds, narrowly beating Alonso — who had set the pace in the morning session — by just a tenth of a second.
Hamilton's teammate Nico Rosberg, who set the second fastest time in the morning, was third.
Hamilton may have ended the day fastest but it was a far from straightforward session for the Briton, who managed just nine laps and set the eighth-fastest time in the opening 90 minutes, after a suspension problem brought an early end to his session.
As the lights went green to start the post-lunch session, mechanics were still working to fix the problem on his car and Hamilton was forced to sit out the opening 30 minutes of the session.
However, despite being sent out on track, Hamilton continued to experience problems with his Mercedes.
"It was quite a difficult day today as we missed some of this morning's session which put us on the back foot slightly, but we were glad to get some laps in the second session at least," Hamilton, aiming to score his first hat-trick of grand prix wins this weekend, said.
"We're not too happy with the balance of the car at the moment, so we need to go and work on that," he added.
However, the two silver cars didn't seem to have as big of an advantage around a cold and hazy Shanghai International Circuit as they did in Bahrain two weeks ago, though they could well have been deliberately hiding their true pace.
Fernando Alonso in particular looked strong in his Ferrari, as the team's new Formula One boss Marco Mattiacci watched from the pit garage.
Technical problems plagued his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, however, forcing the Finn to watch the first session from the sidelines.
But, the Maranello-based squad was able to iron out the glitches with Raikkonen's car allowing the 2007 world champion to rack up 25 laps on his way to the seventh-fastest time in the afternoon.
Daniel Ricciardo was the lead Red Bull and ended the day fourth ahead of his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Williams driver Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of Raikkonen and Jenson Button in the McLaren. Romain Grosjean was ninth in his Lotus ahead of Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat, who completed the top-ten in his Toro Rosso.