Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a late start to top Friday's second free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver missed the first 25 minutes of the one-and-a-half hour session thanks to a suspension problem, which had also limited his running during free practice one.
But after a brief stint on the medium-compound Pirellis, during which he lapped a second-and-a-quarter off the pacesetters on equivalent rubber, Hamilton switched to softs at around the halfway mark.
Hamilton, who complained of understeer on his first run, blitzed the final sector of the lap, setting comfortably the quickest time of the afternoon in that part of the circuit to knock Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso off top spot by 0.141s.
Alonso had earlier relegated the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg from the top of the times by four tenths of a second, setting a particularly strong pace in the twisty middle sector of the lap.
After a dismal Bahrain GP weekend, it was a far stronger day for Alonso. He earlier topped the first free practice session and then set the fastest time during the medium-compound running at the start of the afternoon's running.
Rosberg had the potential to produce a better time and after setting the fastest time of all in sector one, yellow flags at the final corner cost him time, although it is not clear how much. He had to be content with third-fastest time.
Daniel Ricciardo beat Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel to fourth place, with Felipe Massa making good on the Williams team's hopes for a stronger weekend in China in sixth overall.
Kimi Raikkonen was seventh fastest after a brief off at the final corner, with McLaren's Jenson Button eighth ahead of Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat.
Behind them, Force India failed to recapture its Bahrain form, with Nico Hulkenberg 11th fastest and almost a second-and-a-half off the pace, and Sergio Perez 15th.
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado endured a fraught session, suffering off-track moments at the final and the first corner prior to crashing in the pit-entry shortly after the half-hour mark.
Both Caterham's Kamui Kobayashi and Marussia's Max Chilton spun during the session, with Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen among those to have off-track moments.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m38.315s 25
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m38.456s +0.141s 28
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.726s +0.411s 30
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m38.811s +0.496s 30
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m39.015s +0.700s 31
6. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m39.118s +0.803s 25
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m39.283s +0.968s 25
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.491s +1.176s 29
9. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m39.537s +1.222s 36
10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m39.648s +1.333s 26
11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m39.736s +1.421s 30
12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m39.744s +1.429s 29
13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m39.759s +1.444s 28
14. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m39.830s +1.515s 25
15. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m40.124s +1.809s 32
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.359s +2.044s 32
17. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m40.395s +2.080s 30
18. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m40.455s +2.140s 12
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m42.327s +4.012s 27
20. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m43.473s +5.158s 30
21. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m43.530s +5.215s 32
22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m43.679s +5.364s 32