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Jenson Button goes fastest in FP2 as Red Bull hints at ominous long-run pace

Jenson Button, McLarenJenson Button once again set the pace in the second free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka on Friday.

The McLaren man's best time of 1m31.901s was 0.174s quicker than Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were only third and fourth fastest, but the duo's long-run pace on the softer option Pirelli tyres suggested that they may have an advantage when things get serious later in the weekend.

McLaren's drivers set the initial pace in the 90-minute session, following on from the team's strong showing in FP1, Button and Hamilton trading times at the top of the order. That dispute was settled in favour of Hamilton who set a 1m34.529s.

But that mark was only good until Alonso eclipsed it with a 1m33.848s lap, which itself got bumped when Webber set a new pace of 1m33.782s. Alonso then responded swiftly with a 1m33.503s.

That remained the benchmark for quite a while, with Red Bull's Webber 0.155s behind, as all the teams continued to work through their prime tyre programmes.

During this period Kamui Kobayashi had more than one small moment; Bruno Senna had a lucky moment when a spin resulted in no damage at Turn One; and Rubens Barrichello had more than a mere moment - instead thumping the barriers heavily at Degner One after getting on the grass on entry. The Brazilian climbed from his broken car unscathed.

Just before the hour mark, Barrichello's Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado also parked his car at Degner One - but this time with a technical issue. That resultant yellow flag period scuppered several drivers' first soft tyre runs.

By that stage though Alonso had already improved his best to 1m32.075s. Webber had also gone quicker to keep the Ferrari man honest - just 0.072s between them - and also Jenson Button had got a lap in on the softs...

In fact not only had he done that, but his 1m31.901s was the fastest anyone would manage on those tyres as he once again went fastest.

No sooner had the yellows dispersed from Maldonado's problems and Jarno Trulli's trundling Lotus, than Kobayashi had yet another scare. This time it was a big one when he got completely sideways in the middle of 130R. The Japanese saved it, but it was close.

Back up to speed again and with 20 minutes to go Vettel improved to third ahead of team-mate Webber, making it four drivers covered by 0.25s at the time.

The front-runners all stuck on those tyres as they begun their soft tyre evaluations and it became clear that while McLaren and Ferrari were quick on the one-laps, the Red Bulls were cruising along in the high 1m37s often a second faster than the opposition. Ominous.

Behind the top four Felipe Massa was half a second off the pace ahead of Michael Schumacher in the quicker Mercedes. The seven-time champion was the last man within a second of Button.

Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes was seventh with Hamilton, Vitaly Petrov and Sebastien Buemi completing the top ten.

Pos  Driver                Team                  Time              Laps
 1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m31.901s    	     32
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m32.075s  + 0.174  33
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m32.095s  + 0.194  35
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m32.147s  + 0.246  28
 5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m32.448s  + 0.547  34
 6.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m32.710s  + 0.809  26
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m32.982s  + 1.081  27
 8.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m33.245s  + 1.344  26
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1m33.446s  + 1.545  36
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m33.681s  + 1.780  33
11.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m33.705s  + 1.804  25
12.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1m33.790s  + 1.889  36
13.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m34.393s  + 2.492  35
14.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1m34.557s  + 2.656  27
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m34.601s  + 2.700  33
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m36.038s  + 4.137  33
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1m36.225s  + 4.324  35
18.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1m37.123s  + 5.222  14
19.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1m37.440s  + 5.539  30
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1m38.093s  + 6.192  30
21.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1m38.387s  + 6.486  16
22.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1m38.763s  + 6.862  36
23.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1m39.800s  + 7.899  24
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1m42.480s  + 10.579  4

All Timing Unofficial
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