Jenson Button tops second practice

Driving for Brawn GP, Jenson Button claimed the best time of Friday's afternoon practice ahead of Sunday's China Grand Prix. German Nico Rosberg (Williams) is second in front of Brawn's number two pilot, Rubens Barrichello.


AFP - Early-season world championship leader Jenson Button topped the times again for Brawn GP in Friday's afternoon practice ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.

The 29-year-old Englishman clocked a best time of one minute 35.67 seconds to finish quickest over 90 minutes ahead of German Nico Rosberg in a Williams, who was just one-tenth of a second behind.

Button's Brawn teammate, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, was third ahead of Australian Mark Webber and German tyro Sebastian Vettel in the two Red Bull cars, and sixth-placed Italian Jarno Trulli for Toyota.

Button's lap time was half a second inside last year's pole position lap and proved that the Brawn cars are setting a sizzling pace.

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton was 13th in his McLaren-Mercedes, running with a new front wing and interim diffuser on his car.

Hamilton, who was quickest in the morning session, was stripped of a podium finish in Australia for misleading race stewards about an overtaking move by Trulli and is battling to defend his title and his reputation.

His McLaren teammate Finn Heikki Kovalainen was ninth and also struggling along with the two Ferraris -- Brazilian Felipe Massa was 12th and former champion Kimi Raikkonen was 14th.

But worse still were the travails of two-times world champion Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard 19th for Renault on a day when his team chief Flavio Briatore said that this year's title race had effectively been settled.

He was referring to the appeal court hearing over the diffuser issue in Paris this week that went in favour of Brawn.

"Like this, in just three or four Grands Prix the title is decided and there is no credibility left in the championship," said Briatore.

Button, however, was not complaining as he and the new Brawn team, that rose from the ashes of last year's Honda outfit, continued to dominate with a car that interpreted the sport's new regulations more cleverly than their rivals.

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