Monaco: Jenson Button posted the fastest time in a rainy second practice at the Monaco Grand Prix on Thursday, and French rookie Romain Grosjean impressed again for Lotus while Felipe Massa found some much-needed form.
With the track slippery after a downpour briefly interrupted the second session, drivers switched to intermediate tires. But Button had already clocked 1 minute, 15.746 seconds for McLaren on dry tires and that marker was never going to be beaten in the rain.
Grosjean, who was also second in the morning's first practice, timed 1:16.138. Massa, who has picked up only two points from the first five races, was boosted by his time of 1:16.602. He was third fastest ahead of Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso, who was quickest in the sunny morning session.
French rookie Romain Grosjean again impressed for Lotus and Felipe Massa found some much-needed form.
Alonso, who won the Malaysian Grand Prix in March, is confident his car is good enough to help him challenge for another GP win. "Everything seems to respond as we would expect," the Spaniard said. "We only made a few changes to the set-up, trying to improve it, but it's too early to draw any conclusions."
Two-time defending Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel was 10th fastest after finishing ninth in the morning. Gosjean's confidence will be high heading into Saturday's third practice and qualifying. He has made an impressive start to his F1 career: He has a podium after finishing third in Bahrain and was fourth in Barcelona.
"The car is going well at the moment," he said. "It is important to have a car you are confident in."
In the morning session, Alonso drove smoothly to clock 1:16.265 — nearly a second faster than championship co-leader Vettel, who was tied on points with Alonso in a championship race that is much closer than last year's.
Sauber's Sergio Perez was third in the morning in 1:16.711, but the Mexican was 15th quickest in practice two. British driver Lewis Hamilton, still seeking his first win of the season, was fourth in the morning and 11th in the afternoon.
"We didn't learn too much from today due to the conditions. It wasn't ideal as this morning we had a red flag and then it rained this afternoon," Vettel said. "We didn't have a lot of grip due to the rain, it was very slippery on track and there were a lot of cars out at the same time. The weather can change quickly here.
"Hopefully Saturday will be a bit better." It proved to be a bad day for Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn blew his engine in the morning and swerved off the track in the afternoon at the Mirabeau turn, one of several drivers to experience difficulties there.
Brazilian driver Bruno Senna and Venezuelan Pastor Maldonadao were also troubled by Mirebeau. So was Massa, but he managed to keep things under control.
"I am happy with the way things went," Massa said. "It's hard to make predictions about qualifying and even (less) so for the race, but we can definitely say the first day of practice can be considered a positive one."
Former champions Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher struggled in the morning run, which was cut short by about 10 minutes after Kovalainen's engine sent smoke billowing through the tunnel section.
"As soon as I engaged neutral the rear axle locked up," Kovalainen said. "It was very greasy out there but there was no damage so I parked it and that was that."
Raikkonen was hampered by suspension problems on his Lotus and failed to post a time after managing only one lap, while the front wing of Schumacher's Mercedes was dented as he flew into a chicane.
Schumacher improved to ninth fastest in the afternoon, but the seven-time former champion has had a miserable season so far, and has a five-place grid penalty in Monaco.