Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher used the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tyre, which has been nominated together with the P Zero White medium tyre, to set the fastest time of the day during the second free practice session on Friday in China.
Schumacher's fastest time of 1:35.973 was set on his first flying lap, underlining the rapid warm-up of the soft compound. The majority of the drivers chose to use the medium compound at the start of the second session, before progressively moving onto the soft tyre. Only the Red Bull pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, along with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg finished the second session on the P Zero White medium.
Schumacher's lap was significantly quicker than last year's free practice two benchmark of 1:37.688 - which was set on the 2011-specification soft tyre.
The first free practice session was held in variable conditions at the Shanghai circuit, meaning that the drivers ran mainly on the Cinturato Green intermediates while they carried out set-up work, with only Caterham using the Cinturato Blue wet at the start of the session. The teams then moved onto the slick compounds as the track dried out during the last 10 minutes of the hour and a half session. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton went fastest on the P Zero White medium tyre, setting a time of 1:37.106 in the closing minutes of free practice one.
Paul Hembery: "The rain-affected first session was mainly used by the teams to establish crossover points between the intermediate and the slick tyres, which could be of use if we see more rain over the weekend. We then had a very busy second session, as the teams all tried to make up for the dry running that they had lost in the morning, particularly when it came to testing some new parts and evolutions. As a result of that, we've got plenty of data to analyse now in order to establish the level of degradation. From what we can see so far, we're expecting the difference between the soft and the medium tyre to be in the region of 0.6 seconds per lap, and we would anticipate between two and three pit stops per car in the normal course of events."
Pirelli numbers of the day:
Sets used overall:
Highest number of laps per compound:
Check out our Friday gallery, here.