Lewis sets the standard in Sepang Practice
Posted by Simon Wright
LEWIS Hamilton set the standard in practice for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The McLaren driver looked comfortable on the Sepang layout throughout the day and ending up topping the timesheets today in both sessions. In the morning session, he lapped a full half a second faster than world champion Sebastian Vettel in very humid conditions. A few hours later, Michael Schumacher was the Brit’s closest challenger, but still 0.4secs slower. Although thunderstorms are forecasted for the rest of the weekend, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s qualifying session as an overwhelming favourite for pole position.
Having looked decidedly unhappy with his podium in Albert Park last Sunday, there were questions being raised about Hamilton’s attitude. However, he came across as a happier individual in the paddock today and looks in formidable form. Team-mate Jenson Button was playing down the pace of the car today, admitting to BBC Sport that this year’s regulations are making the circuit configuration harder for everyone. “It is always tricky around here. Compared to last race, there is far less grip around here. It’s working ok, but compared to last year, the new regulations make it far more difficult around here.”
Mercedes GP were McLaren’s closest rivals today, with Schumacher and Nico Rosberg featuring prominently in the top four in both sessions. Vettel, who expressed that the balance was not perfect over the team radio in the second session wound up a slightly frustrated tenth. He is normally cool, but even the young German seemed to be feeling the heat of Kuala Lumpur after his struggles this afternoon.
There was plenty of drivers who made use of the wide asphalt areas, although only Narain Karthikeyan stopped out on track today and that was after only eight laps in the first session thanks to a hydraulic glitch on the struggling HRT. The one driver who suffered the most was Paul di Resta, who went off the road twice. His first execursion was caused by a brake duct issue, which punctured one of his front tyres. The second mistake was down to driver error, although the Scot did keep the car out of the barriers.
Ferrari have brought a new chassis to this event for Felipe Massa, although the Brazilian made no impact on the times. Team-mate Fernando Alonso experimented with a new front wing in second practice and finished a solid sixth, after finishing up behind Massa in session one. There was a new driver in the car today, as GP3 champion Valterri Bottas took over from Bruno Senna this morning for Williams. The youngster accredited himself well, outpacing Pastor Maldonado before handing back driving duties to Senna this afternoon.
There was a blow for Kimi Raikkonen, when his gearbox which had been damaged by some off-roading in Australia overheated in the sweltering conditions. He will lose five grid positions for the race by getting a new gearbox. Raikkonen told Sky Sports F1; “It was a frustrating day. We struggled to get a good set-up and it felt quite slippery. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.” Fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen will get a five place drop too following a Safety Car infringement in Melbourne.
Raikkonen also mentioned about high levels of tyre degradation and the boss of Pirelli, Paul Hembrey has admitted that three stops are likely for most drivers on raceday. So, Mercedes GP look like a contender for top grid positions, Red Bull have work to do and McLaren certainly seem to be the leading force again. Weather permitting, Hamilton has to be confident for his chances tomorrow.
MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1 TIMES
|1||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||19||1.38.021|
|2||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||21||1.38.535|
|3||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||21||1.38.813|
|4||MICHAEL SCUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||19||1.38.826|
|5||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||17||1.38.919|
|6||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||20||1.39.092|
|7||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||22||1.39.128|
|8||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||23||1.39.298|
|9||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||15||1.39.323|
|10||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||19||1.39.440|
|11||VALTERRI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS RENAULT||23||1.39.724|
|12||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||23||1.39.783|
|14||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||21||1.39.910|
|16||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR FERRARI||23||1.40.099|
|17||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||19||1.40.247|
|18||DANIEL RICCIARDO||STR FERRARI||23||1.40.469|
|19||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||25||1.40.857|
|20||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||23||1.41.085|
|21||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||18||1.43.170|
|22||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||14||1.44.580|
|23||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||8||1.45.360|
|24||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||18||1.45.528|
MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2 TIMES
|1||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||28||1.38.172|
|2||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||34||1.38.533|
|3||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||30||1.38.535|
|4||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||34||1.38.696|
|5||DANIEL RICCIARDO||STR FERRARI||33||1.38.853|
|7||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||29||1.39.133|
|8||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR FERRARI||33||1.39.297|
|9||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||22||1.39.311|
|10||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||25||1.39.402|
|11||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||35||1.39.444|
|12||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||26||1.39.464|
|13||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||20||1.39.625|
|14||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||16||1.39.687|
|15||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||29||1.39.696|
|17||BRUNO SENNA||WILLIAMS RENAULT||34||1.40.678|
|18||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||33||1.40.947|
|19||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||25||1.41.464|
|20||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||20||1.41.681|
|21||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||18||1.42.594|
|22||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||24||1.42.874|
|23||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||18||1.43.658|
|24||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||22||1.43.823|
About Simon WrightHello, I am Simon, 29 and currently work as a Picture Researcher & Product Editor for Topps Europe Ltd. In my spare time, I run the Premier League at 25 Website. I graduated from the University of Northampton in 2012 with a 2:1 degree in BA Hons Journalism.
Posted on March 23, 2012, in Practice Reports and tagged jenson button, kimi raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, sebastian vettel, Sepang, williams. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.