Lewis Hamilton has continued his Friday practice form into the day’s second session of running at the Malaysian Grand Prix by posting the fastest overall time. While the much-expected rain actually stayed in the clouds instead of on the track, the Englishman led a Mercedes-powered 1-2-3-4 on the timesheets.
Concerns over the day’s second ninety-minute session being hit by wet weather proved to be surprisingly unfounded, as the track remained bone dry throughout. Conditions were as hot and humid as ever, and the teams’ mechanics were kept busy clearing the radiator intakes of any grass brought in by the occasional off-track excursion.
Both HRT drivers had their own moments during the session, with Pedro de la Rosa having a spin at Turn 4, before team-mate Narain Karthikeyan has his own spin at the last corner just before the session ended. Pleasingly for the Spanish squad – which had failed to qualify either of its drivers at last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix – both Karthikeyan and de la Rosa posted times well within the session’s theoretical 107% time, which should indicate that making the grid for Sunday’s race might not prove to be quite the hurdle that everyone had anticipated.
The session gave the drivers at McLaren, Mercedes and Toro Rosso plenty of cause to smile, with their drivers occupying the top-eight positions on the timesheets at the end of the session.
Contrastingly, it was a more worrying time in the sister Red Bull Racing camp. Mark Webber finished the session seventh-fastest, while a “not entirely happy” Vettel finished tenth-fastest. The team had spent some time concentrating on its long-run pace, the area it feels it is currently on-par with rivals McLaren.
Sixth-quickest in the session was Fernando Alonso, but he had to really work for his position on the timesheets – he finished 0.7 seconds down on his soft-tyre run, which was still slower than the fastest harder-compound lap-times clocked by Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso’s team-mate Felipe Massa was again buried down the order, with the Brazilian over a second slower than his two-time champion team-mate. Performances like this will not do his short-term prospects with the team any favours, with rumours already swirling that he will be dumped before the year is out.
Another team with room to improve was Lotus, which had shown good pace in the first practice session, but seemed to lose ground in the late afternoon running. Having suffered from his wheel issue in the first practice session, Romain Grosjean returned to the action and finished the session ninth-fastest, while team-mate Kimi Räikkönen was just fifteenth, although insisting that there was more speed to come from the black-and-gold E20 challenger.
Widely considered to be one of the gentlest cars on Pirelli’s tyres last year, Sauber struggled with tyre degradation in this session, and its nervous C31 chassis seemed ill-suited to Sepang’s high-speed sweeps in today’s running. After finishing well down the order in the opening session, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez improved slightly, but still ended up 14th and 18th-fastest, respectively.
2012 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:38.172||28|
|2.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:38.533||+ 0.361||34|
|3.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:38.535||+ 0.363||29|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||1:38.696||+ 0.524||34|
|5.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:38.853||+ 0.681||33|
|6.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:38.891||+ 0.719||27|
|7.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:39.133||+ 0.961||29|
|8.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:39.297||+ 1.125||33|
|9.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:39.311||+ 1.139||22|
|10.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:39.402||+ 1.230||25|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:39.444||+ 1.272||35|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:39.464||+ 1.292||26|
|13.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:39.625||+ 1.453||20|
|14.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:39.687||+ 1.515||16|
|15.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:39.696||+ 1.524||29|
|16.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:40.271||+ 2.099||27|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||1:40.678||+ 2.506||34|
|18.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:40.947||+ 2.775||33|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:41.464||+ 3.292||25|
|20.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:41.681||+ 3.509||20|
|21.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:42.594||+ 4.422||18|
|22.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:42.874||+ 4.702||24|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:43.658||+ 5.486||18|
|24.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:43.823||+ 5.561||22|
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