Despite his earlier suspension problems, Lewis Hamilton was the one to beat in Friday's second practice in China, edging Fernando Alonso by 0.141s.
In slightly warmer conditions that what the drivers experienced in the morning, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat set the early pace in Friday's second practice. That changed as the big boys came out to play.
Sebastian Vettel had a brief stint at the top, something that hasn't happened often this season, but minutes later lost out to Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari driver crossed the line with a 1:39.251, half a second up on Mercedes' Nico Rosberg while Daniel Ricciardo slotted in to third place, 0.969s down.
The drivers began making the switch to the soft tyres 30 minutes in with Rosberg going quickest with a 1:38.726, a second quicker than his medium tyre lap.
He was pipped as Alonso clocked a 1:38.456 to go quickest by 0.270s with the Ferrari driver then losing out to Hamilton.
One of the last to swap to the soft tyres, Hamilton, who missed the start of FP2 with a suspension problem, crossed the line with a 1:38.315 to go hit the front, 0.141s ahead of Alonso and 0.411 up on Rosberg.
Ricciardo finished in fourth place ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa.
Swapping to long runs in the latter stages of the session, all the drivers complained of severe graining to the front tyres but it was noted that they could push through it to an extent.
As expected, Mercedes demonstrated solid race-pace while Ferrari were also looking strong. The Bulls were also near the front but McLaren seemed to be struggling.
Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado finished his day's work in the wall.
He made an embarrassing exit from FP2 as the Venezuelan driver crashed into the wall at the entrance to the pit lane.
Going into the pits too hot, he lost his Lotus - not for the first time on Friday - and hit the wall. "I crashed," Maldonado told his team.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.315 25 laps
02 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.456 +0.141 28 laps
03 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.726 +0.411 30 laps
04 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:38.811 +0.496 28 laps
05 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:39.015 +0.700 29 laps
06 Felipe Massa Williams 1:39.118 +0.803 25 laps
07 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.283 +0.968 24 laps
08 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.491 +1.176 27 laps
09 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:39.537 +1.222 35 laps
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:39.648 +1.333 24 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:39.736 +1.421 28 laps
12 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:39.744 +1.429 28 laps
13 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:39.759 +1.444 26 laps
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:39.830 +1.515 25 laps
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.124 +1.809 32 laps
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:40.359 +2.044 32 laps
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:40.395 +2.080 28 laps
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:40.455 +2.140 12 laps
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:42.327 +4.012 25 laps
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1:43.473 +5.158 28 laps
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:43.530 +5.215 30 laps
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:43.679 +5.364 30 laps