McLaren star Button fastest in rain-affected practice for Monaco Grand Prix
14:26 GMT, 24 May 2012
Jenson Button beat the showers that dogged second practice ahead of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix to record the fastest time of the day.
With rain forecast as the session began, it forced all drivers to hit the principality street circuit to get in dry running before the dangers increased on a potentially greasy track.
Leading the way: Button set the fastest time of the day ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix
After just 25 minutes, with the gloom closing in, the first light shower did enough to send the cars scurrying back into the pits.
At that stage McLaren star Button held sway with a lap of one minute 15.746secs, a time that was never to be bettered as the rain drifted in and out, resulting in interspersed periods of activity and quiet.
Finn-ished: Kovalainen required a new engine for the second practice session
Up in smoke: Kovalainen brought an abrupt end to the first session when his engine blew up
At least there was the opportunity for the teams to try out the intermediate Pirelli tyres, designed for such damp conditions.
Depending on which website you believe, there is the prospect of further rain over the weekend, but then the weather in such a microclimate as this part of the world is as unpredictable as the racing we have so far seen.
Button is one of five different drivers to have won a race this year, with history beckoning on Sunday as a season has never started with six different winners of the first six races.
All smiles: Hamilton jokes with McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh ahead of this weekend's race
In truth, no team will have gathered too much useful data today to prepare them for the race, despite spending three hours out on track.
The rain played its part, but given there is no running on Friday in Monaco – a long-held tradition – the nature of the roads used for the race could alter considerably by qualifying on Saturday.
Thumbs up: Alonso appeared in relaxed mood on Thursday
As in the first session, Lotus' Romain Grosjean was forced to settle for second best, initially to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, and then Button, with the Frenchman 0.392secs adrift.
The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso finished third and fourth, the Brazilian for once this season ahead of his team-mate on the timesheet and under pressure this weekend to improve on his poor performances to date.
In the tunnel: Hamilton is favourite to win in Monaco on Sunday
Race winner in Spain last time out, Williams' Pastor Maldonado, was fifth quickest a second down, followed by Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes.
Red Bull duo Mark Webber and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel were in seventh and 10th, the latter 1.5secs down, with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes sandwiched between the pair.
In the spotlight: Maldonado arrives in Monaco off the back of his maiden grand prix win
Lewis Hamilton trailed in 11th, 1.6secs off his team-mate, with Force India's Paul di Resta narrowly behind his fellow Briton in 12th.
Heikki Kovalainen had earlier brought a premature halt to first practice when the Renault engine in his Caterham blew nine minutes from the end of the session.
As the Finn was blasting through the tunnel at the time, white clouds of smoke billowed into the air, making visibility almost zero, forcing the stewards to red flag and eventually bring an early end to proceedings. Back on track in FP2, Kovalainen finished down in 21st, 4.2secs behind Button.