From alighting quickly from his smoking F60 at the end of the opening practice session of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, Kimi Raikkonen bounced back to set the fastest time in FP2 and set up a Ferrari 1-2 to head into day two.
The Finn's earlier hasty exit is believed to have been caused by problems with his KERS unit, although the Scuderia remains cagey over the subject, but he showed no ill-effects in the later session to clock 1min 35.707secs and enjoy a full tenth's advantage over the rest of the field. When team-mate Felipe Massa slotted into second spot, albeit unable to follow Raikkonen below his 2008 pole mark, Ferrari confirmed its role as best of the 'non-diffuser' teams expected to play second fiddle to the likes of Brawn, Williams and Toyota again this weekend, but also gave hope to those hoping for better fortunes than they enjoyed in Melbourne.
Massa lapped 0.125secs slower than his team-mate, clocking 1min 35.832secs, with only Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel also able to get under the 1min 36secs barrier, but the field remain tightly bunched, with the top 15 cars all within a second of Raikkonen's benchmark. Naturally, the session saw each team following its own particular development programme, meaning that the results may not transfer to Saturday's qualifying, but Melbourne pacesetters Brawn had to settle for sixth and seventh as others pushed their way into the mix.
While Vettel underlined the potential he and Red Bull showed before his clash with Robert Kubica in Australia, team-mate Mark Webber provided suitable back-up by posting the fifth-best time, the two dark blue machines split by the Williams of FP1 pacesetter Nico Rosberg who, like Webber, was only a matter of hundredths from breaking into the 1min 35s.
Rosberg was looking set to break through the barrier when Giancarlo Fisichella put his Force India into them, bringing out the yellow flags at turn eleven and forcing those passing to back off or face sanctions. Although his 1min 36.015secs effort came once the caution had been lifted, he still had to watch as Ferrari stole away his unbroken run at the head of free practice timesheets in 2009.
Rubens Barrichello headed Jenson Button in the Brawn camp, the pair proving equally matched in the low 1min 36s, while Kazuki Nakajima claimed eighth in the second Williams. With the Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock languishing a little further down the order, however, it opened the door for others to round out the top ten.
Chief beneficiary was McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, who shrugged off the problems he suffered in first practice to bounce back to ninth place late on. The Finn was 0.690secs from countryman Raikkonen but ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who took eleventh spot after being demoted by Nelson Piquet Jr's similarly late improvement.
Trulli and Glock sandwiched the surprising Sebastien Buemi, who continued to outpace Toro Rosso team-mate Sebastien Bourdais on a track he is familiar with from GP2 Asia duty last season, while Fernando Alonso completed the list of those to get within a second of Raikkonen as he continued to battle an ear infection in 15th place.
Behind the Spaniard, Adrian Sutil saw a brief early spell at the head of the times translate into 16th after suffering the sort of off-track moment that also befell those immediately ahead of him, but did not compare to that of team-mate Fisichella, who was powerless to prevent contact with the turn eleven barriers, even if he did manage to turn his car broadside to the tyre wall before impact.
The Italian veteran occupied 19th place on the FP2 timesheet as a result, sandwiched between Bourdais and BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, the German, like 17th-placed team-mate Robert Kubica far from happy with his mount, although the team insisted that it was merely working through its allotted programme and expected more from day two. Heidfeld, Kubica and Fisichella all recorded better times in FP1, but only the Italian moved up on the combined timesheets, vaulting two places to 17th overall.