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Hamilton leads the way in Friday Malaysia practices

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Hamilton leads the way in Friday Malaysia practices

Following Jenson Button's victory last week in Australia, Lewis Hamilton proved that the team improvements are no fluke as the 2008 world driving champion set the fastest times of both sessions in Friday Practice at the Grand Prix of Malaysia at...

Following Jenson Button's victory last week in Australia, Lewis Hamilton proved that the team improvements are no fluke as the 2008 world driving champion set the fastest times of both sessions in Friday Practice at the Grand Prix of Malaysia at Sepang.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Hamilton was two tenths clear of Nico Rosberg in the first session and one tenth of Sebastian Vettel in the second. Despite the hot and humid conditions, Hamilton felt that the team was improving their pace and inching closer to their main rivals, Red Bull and Ferrari.

"Every time I get to the track, it is a great feeling when I get into the car," said Hamilton. "But tonight, I have to sit with my engineers and access things. I do not know if we are closer to the others as I am not sure where the others are."

In an area where tropic heat and humidity are at their highest, Lewis Hamilton seemed to make it look easy as the former World Champion set the fastest times in both the first and second sessions in Friday practice for the Grand Prix of Malaysia at Sepang.

Considering a possible problem with the Red Bull car's reliability, Sebastian Vettel was only two tenths of a second behind Hamilton, although the German is still concentrating on a better qualifying time and most of all, trying to finish the race, as he has failed to do so in the opening two grands prix.

"Some small issues for me today, but nothing big." Stated Vettel afterwards. "I was not 100 percent happy today. I still think we need to be quicker."

Nico Rosberg showed his consistency by finishing second in the first session, followed by a third in the afternoon run. But Ferrari was inconsistent in both Friday sessions, with Fernando Alonso 1.4 seconds off the pace. His teammate Felipe Massa was another second further down, struggling with the balance of the car going through high speed corners.

"It is pointless to look for any signification in Friday's classification," said Alonso. "I am seventh, but I could just as well been seventh and it would have not made any difference," stated the disappointed two time world champion.

Massa was not any happier with the result for Ferrari.

"As usual, it is difficult to draw any conclusions after these practices." Said Massa. "We ran different programs in comparison to other teams, so it is difficult where we stand to the others." After having many problems in the last two races, the rookie HRT team finally managed to find a trouble free session , but still Karun Chandhok could only produce a time that was seven seconds slower than Hamilton's. Bruno Senna was worse off, lapping four tenths slower than Chandhok.

A sprinkling of rain cooled the track between the two practice sessions, as the first session was no more exciting than the second. Vettel complained of his brakes sticking, while Jamie Alguersuari lost power in his Toro Rosso with an electrical and had to slowly crawl his car back to the pits.

One major incident occurred in this session as Pedro de la Rosa, Massa and test driver and town hero Fairuz Fauzy all ran wide and over the gravel trap in turn 12 while fighting off their steering difficulties.

Hamilton on the other hand realized with this result that the McLarens, especially after his teammate Jenson Button's win last week in Australia, could mean that the team is getting closer to the pace of the Red Bulls and the Ferraris.

"Every time I get to the track, it is a great feeling when I get into the car," said Hamilton. "But tonight, I have to sit with my engineers and access things. I do not know if we are closer to the others as I am not sure where the others are."

With qualifying just one day ahead and the race following on Sunday, it will be difficult to see how the fuel levels will be with the hot temperatures and possible heavy rains, which changes all strategies on the circuit.

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