Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen set the initial pace, running the upgraded engine in their Ferraris. The German lapped in 1m 16.304s, a significant improvement on his performance on the soft tyre in FP1, with the Finn right on his tail with 1m 16.310s. At that stage Nico Rosberg was third on 1m 16.440s for Mercedes.
Hamilton meanwhile had survived a small moment when he almost ran into the back of Grosjean’s Lotus earlier in the session, then set two purple sector times before clattering over the kerbs in the final corner and losing momentum. However, a lap later he banged in the fastest time of the day by 0.316s, with 1m 15.988s.
Then, with 55 minutes remaining, it began to rain. Initially, it wasn’t too bad, but it soon became torrential.
Play wasn’t quite finished, however, as with 42 minutes remaining Mercedes boldly sent Hamilton and Rosberg out for a recce on intermediate tyres. It was not a good idea. Hamilton got as far as the hairpin before aquaplaning straight off into the tyre wall and taking off his Mercedes’ front wing. The session was then red flagged while the stricken F1 W06 Hybrid was removed. Nobody ventured out again when the track went green again.
That left Pastor Maldonado in fifth place for Lotus on 1m 16.600s, ahead of Valtteri Bottas on 1m 16.849s for Williams and Romain Grosjean on 1m 16.864s in the second Lotus.
Felipe Massa was eighth in the second Williams on 1m 17.041s, fractions ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat on 1m 17.092s, the Russian’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 17.111s, and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 17.120s.
Marcus Ericsson took 12th for Sauber with 1m 17.261s, chased by Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz on 1m 17.318s, Force India’s Sergio Perez on 1m 17.367s, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso on 1m 17.627s, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen on 1m 17.657s, Felipe Nasr in the other Sauber on 1m 17.751s, and Jenson Button in the other McLaren on 1m 18.135s.
Roberto Merhi once again pipped Marussia team mate Will Stevens, with 1m 19.531s to 1m 19.734s.
Undoubtedly all the teams will be hoping for fairer weather on Saturday…