for full FP2 times.
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of FP2 in Malaysia but the front of the grid looks set to be very competitive with four teams covered by 0.2s.
After Lewis Hamilton was quickest in FP1, Rosberg made it a Mercedes clean sweep of Friday's sessions but was only 0.035s clear of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. The soft tyre runs saw the field bunch up to form a very close fight at the front, with the top three of Rosberg, Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel separated by 0.061s and Felipe Massa in sixth just 0.2s off the pace.
Between Vettel and Massa were Hamilton and Fernando Alonso as Ferrari looked stronger at the high-speed Sepang circuit, while Daniel Ricciardo was seventh quickest in the second Red Bull, 0.367s slower than Rosberg's fastest time. However, Ricciardo ended the session with an excursion through the gravel at Turn 11.
One team missing from the battle at the front was McLaren, with Jenson Button 0.7s off the pace in eighth place and Kevin Magnussen almost half a second further back. The team is running updates which Ron Dennis claimed would see it improve by at least 0.5s, but appears slightly off the pace of Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams over one lap.
Mercedes also appeared to retain an advantage on race pace, with Hamilton told to target 1m43.9s lap times during his long run while Raikkonen was lapping in the 1m45s. Raikkonen was also complaining about his rear tyres going off early in his stint, with the high temperatures, abrasive surface and increased torque putting making this weekend especially tough on the rear Pirellis.
Attempting to recover from another difficult session on Friday morning, Romain Grosjean had completed nine laps when he was forced to limp back to the pits after getting stuck in gear. Returning to the track in the final half hour, Grosjean again suffered a gearbox issue – radioing in to the team to say “lost gearbox, lost gearbox” – and stopped before Turn 4 having only added five more laps to his total.
Max Chilton's session was interrupted by an early spin as he dropped his Marussia coming through Turn 3 and was left stranded on the grass on the inside of the circuit, while Nico Hulkenberg skidded off at the final corner and just managed to collect the car to recover to the pit lane.
Neither Kamui Kobayashi nor Pastor Maldonado emerged at all in the session, with Kobayashi failing to recover from an energy store problem in FP1 and Lotus ending Friday with a total of just 20 laps between both cars.