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Raikkonen completes Free Practice 2 on top

Kimi Räikkönen completed Fridays action at the top of the time sheets.

The Lotus driver set a time of 1m34.154 beating the Red Bull pair of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso finished 4th ahead of Scot Paul di Resta and team mate Felipe Massa.

Romain Grosjean, Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil and Lewis Hamilton rounded off the top 10.

Button completed the day as the fastest Mclaren driver in 11th. Vergne was 12th followed by Perez, Ricciardo and Hulkenburg. Williams completed a disappointing day down in 16th and 17th. Van der Garde finished the day at the bottom of the time sheets.

The session got underway with plenty of cars heading out to complete early lap times.

With 40 minutes of the session to go, teams began their longer runs on both sets of tyres and heavier fuel loads yielding no further improvements in lap times.

A few drivers ran off the circuit with the most notable incident coming from Esteban Gutierrez who over steered his Sauber into the front end of Charles Pics Caterham, puncturing the Mexicans front left tyre.

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Teams sceptical over Lotus pace

Lotus’ pace this 2013 season is undeniable, with victory in Melbourne and a fastest lap time in Free Practice 2 in Malaysia. Now rivals have moved to question their rise to the top after struggling with extremely high tyre degradation in Malaysia.

Whilst Red Bull and other rivals experienced high wear and high degradation of rubber around the Sepang Circuit, the Lotus appeared to gain pick up but then have the ability to clean their tyres of excess rubber around later corners, meaning their car could be pushed to the maximum for more corners and more laps than the rest.

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Rivals have begun to question how much knowledge Lotus would have gained from having their 2010 chassis as the model Pirelli used to try out and test this years new rubber. Whilst the car itself is now 3 years old and the majority of the parts on this years car would have been heavily changed since then, there will be some parts that remain the same, as not all areas of the car are changed year to year. The core DNA of the machine remains. The other teams’ speculation arises when they assess how much Lotus knew about what set up changes enabled the tyres to work correctly or at an optimum range.

The Pirelli contract did state that no team would gain substantial benefit from the tests and all the teams were offered the opportunity to ‘give’ Pirelli a chassis, however many declined until Lotus offered. Perhaps this recent upturn in performance for Lotus is the fruit from their good-will seed from 2011.