Just as in FP1, Sebastian Vettel finished the afternoon practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix in the lead. The Red Bull driver posted a fastest lap of 01:37.688, shaving approximately one second off his morning time.

Meanwhile, McLaren had been making even greater strides as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button snapped at the world champion's heels. The two British drivers were now within 0.166 and 0.247 seconds respectively, by contrast with the first session in which they had been more than two seconds adrift.

Likewise drawing encouragement from the afternoon's outing were GP Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finishing the day as fourth and fifth fastest and not too far off the leading trio either.

Rosberg was a mere eight thousandths shy of Button's third-place time while Schumacher trailed about one-and-a-half tenths. Felipe Massa in his Ferrari was eight-tenths off the leaders, and the rest of the Top Ten – Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov, Mark Webber – have a gap of one second or more to make up.

Sebastien Buemi finished the day one place ahead of Fernando Alonso in 13th and two places better than team-mate Jaime Alguersuari in 15th. Virgin Racing once again had major cause for concern. The team were in danger of being eliminated altogether until Jerome D'Ambrosio, driving at the absolute limit, cracked the 107-percent barrier.

Unfortunately, Timo Glock spent most of the afternoon in the pits and failed to post a time good enough to take him into Saturday's qualifying. Perhaps even more worrying was the fact that both HRTs were ahead of the Virgins.

Nick Heidfeld had two major scrapes during the day: in the first session, he lost control of his Lotus Renault driving over a kerb, damaging his only new front wing, and in the afternoon, he collided with a barrier.