Despite all the concerns across the paddock over the winter, McLaren have finished the second practice session with Jenson Button on first, closely followed by Lewis Hamilton.  Red Bull and Ferrari weren’t far behind either and Mercedes do indeed look strong for 2011 with Michael Schumacher completing this session in an impressive 6th.

As for the more midfield teams, yes it’s even more tricky to see who’s quicker than who, but – and this is purely based on practice times, the Williams cars look quick, Toro Rosso could catch others napping and the Force India team’s progression in F1 seems to have hit a wall.  As for Sauber, their car looks pretty handy too.  With Renault, it’s a tricky one, their form in practice leaves them firmly in the midfield, leaving Mercedes to join Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.  They may not have been showing their hand and for Heidfeld’s case let’s hope so.

Looking to the other end of the field, Hispania appear to have one car at Melbourne, and Tonio Liuzzi managed to do an installation lap in it, with just 2minutes remaining of the session.  Well done to the engineers for getting the car to the track, they’ve been up all night, but seriously, you would have thought it could have planned slightly better… No sign of Karthikeyan during this session, or his car.

Marussia Virgin need to find another second or so in the final practice on Saturday to ensure they can qualify within 107% of the pole position time and be allowed to start the race on Sunday – Badger’s sure they’ll do it, especially with Glock at the wheel.

As for the Lotus, or Team Lotus as they are now known (court cases pending), they’re still the best of the ‘new’ teams, but going by the times recorded in second practice, it appears that a lot of folk have got a bit carried away with saying they’ll be racing the Renault team – Tony Fernandes summed it up – “Back on the pit wall. Long winter. Nice new pit wall. Not a great day. But I’m happy. Consistent and steady approach…”

Timesheet for Friday Practice 2:

1Jenson ButtonMcLaren1'25.854 32222.363
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1'25.9860.13231222.022
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'26.0010.14728221.983
4Sebastian VettelRed Bull1'26.0140.1635221.949
5Mark WebberRed Bull1'26.2830.42933221.257
6M.SchumacherMercedes1'26.5900.73631220.473
7Felipe MassaFerrari1'26.7890.93534219.967
8Sergio PerezSauber1'27.1011.24739219.18
9R.BarrichelloWilliams1'27.2801.42634218.73
10Nico RosbergMercedes1'27.4481.59423218.31
11J.AlguersuariToro Rosso1'27.5251.67131218.118
12Vitaly PetrovRenault1'27.5281.67429218.11
13Nick HeidfeldRenault1'27.5361.68222218.09
14Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1'27.6971.84330217.69
15Kamui KobayashiSauber1'28.0952.24135216.706
16Paul Di RestaForce India1'28.3762.52233216.017
17Adrian SutilForce India1'28.5832.72931215.513
18Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1'29.3863.53229213.577
19H.KovalainenLotus1'30.8294.97522210.183
20Jarno TrulliLotus1'30.9125.05823209.992
21J.D'AmbrosioVirgin1'32.1066.25236207.269
22Timo GlockVirgin1'32.1356.28130207.204
23Vitantonio LiuzziHRT1