Nico Rosberg has retained his position atop the Friday practice timesheets as the first day of the 2015 Formula 1 season drew to a close at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
The German again edged out teammate Lewis Hamilton by just one-tenth of a second, with the pair lapping over two seconds quicker than the best Friday practice times posted a year before.
The Silver Arrows duo used a mid-session run on the softer Pirelli rubber to stamp their authority on proceedings, with the best anyone else could manage being the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who put himself third-fastest and just over seven-tenths of a second off the pace.
The four-time World Champion edged out teammate Kimi Räikkönen in the much-hyped intra-team battle for top honours, ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the Williams – the Finn had been third-fastest in the first practice session held earlier in the day.
Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was one of a number of drivers of who didn’t turn a lap in the session. His Williams mechanics detected a water leak under the covers of the FW37, and spent the entire session trying to repair it.
Local hero Daniel Ricciardo was also out of action, much to the disappointment of the thousands of fans who had hit the circuit, with his Red Bull Racing RB11 having an engine change – a rather worrying situation so early in the season.
Once again, neither Manor Marussia entry managed to run, as it worked to reinstall the software needed to operate the car; this is a consequence of all of its hard drives being wiped before the planned auction of the team’s assets that was subsequently cancelled when a rescue deal was arranged.
At least both Saubers made it onto the track while the ‘Seatgate’ saga dragged into yet another day through the Melbourne courts. Felipe Nasr finished eleventh-quickest in his first laps of the circuit, while teammate Marcus Ericsson suffered a left-rear suspension failure midway through the session.
McLaren stand-in Kevin Magnussen provided the biggest drama of the day, crashing out early at Turn 6 and causing significant damage to the left-hand side of his MP4-30. The session was briefly red-flagged while the Dane’s damaged car was recovered from the gravel trap. Teammate Jenson Button saw his session end prematurely with a reported loss of power from the Honda engine.
Behind the top-five, Daniil Kvyat finished sixth-quickest in the sole Red Bull RB11, albeit is a considerable 2.319 seconds off the pace of the Mercedes’.
The Russian only just finished ahead of Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz Jr, who suffered a brief spin at Turn 15 but managed to get going to complete the session’s highest lap tally. Sainz’s teammate Max Verstappen saw his running limited to six laps thanks to a battery problem.
The Lotus duo of Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean were next up in eighth- and ninth-fastest respectively, although both seemed to struggle with handling imbalances and suffered a few slides through the run-off areas under braking.
Nico Hülkenberg rounded out the top ten in the new Force India, but complained of a number of problems with his VJM08.
2015 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Results:
|Driver||Team / Entry||Time||Gap||Laps|
|1.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team F1W06||1:27.697||28|
|2.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team F1W06||1:27.797||+ 0.100||24|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:28.412||+ 0.715||33|
|4.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF15-T||1:28.842||+ 1.145||33|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||1:29.265||+ 1.568||32|
|6.||Daniil Kvyat||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||1:30.016||+ 2.319||27|
|7.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:30.071||+ 2.374||39|
|8.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:30.104||+ 2.407||11|
|9.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Mercedes E23 Hybrid||1:30.205||+ 2.508||36|
|10.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:30.473||+ 2.776||30|
|11.||Felipe Nasr||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:30.755||+ 3.058||32|
|12.||Sergio Pérez||Sahara Force India Mercedes VJM08||1:30.980||+ 3.283||32|
|13.||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:31.387||+ 3.690||21|
|14.||Max Verstappen||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR10||1:31.395||+ 3.698||6|
|15.||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C34||1:32.303||+ 4.606||14|
|16.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Honda MP4-30||1:33.289||+ 5.592||4|
|17.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB11||no time||0|
|18.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW37||no time||0|
|19.||Will Stevens||Marussia Manor F1 Team Ferrari MR03||no time||0|
|20.||Roberto Merhi||Marussia Manor F1 Team Ferrari MR03||no time||0|
Image via XPB Images