Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg was the most high-profile victim of the slippery conditions, the German swiping the front wing off his Silver Arrow against the wall following a spin at Turn 7. To add insult to injury, it was a new-spec nose that the team had deliberately not run in FP1 for fear of potential damage.
Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest to put Ferrari in the mix, followed in the times by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, and the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Completing the top ten were Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari, Force India’s Sergio Perez and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.
Yet again, it was the disruptive weather that dominated proceedings, as the track was once more damp and conditions wild and windy at the start of the session following several showers since FP1.
Ricciardo ventured out with 73 minutes remaining and gave photographers some wonderful spray-filled images on his way to 1m 49.017s, which team mate Kvyat quickly reduced to 1m 44.288s. But then came the drama, when Rosberg crashed whilst third fastest on 1m 47.356s. He tried to limp back to the pits but there was too much debris under the car and he was told to stop.
Meanwhile, Sainz put Toro Rosso on top with 1m 42.902s, before Alonso went quickest for McLaren on 1m 40.763s as conditions improved further. The Spaniard then trimmed that to 1m 39.895s as Hulkenberg came into the picture in second with 1m 42.435s before being displaced by Force India team mate Perez with 1m 41.256s.
As things got better still, Sainz went back to the top with 1m 39.786s before Raikkonen replied with 1m 39.486s. This time it was Hamilton who stayed in the garage, together with Haas’s Romain Grosjean, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and the Williams, Renault and Sauber drivers.
In the final 25 minutes the world champion came out to play, however. And he immediately redefined the ante with an easy 1m 38.841s, a whole 0.645s faster than Raikkonen…
Hulkenberg, however, reduced the deficit to 0.467s when he posted 1m 39.308s to go second. With 15 minutes to go, Perez had a great lap going with new purple times in the first two sectors, but it was a wild and entertaining run that went away when he slid off in the last one.
In the end, Williams and Renault did only token out laps and remained among those without times, along with the Sauber drivers and Verstappen.
It was thus a bittersweet session for Mercedes, encouraging for Force India, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren, but only reasonable for Ferrari, with Raikkonen third and Vettel lounging in eighth place.
VIDEO: Rosberg prangs the barriers in FP2