As chief rivals McLaren Mercedes continue stabbing around for a sense of normalcy to this young season, Ferrari stuck both cars atop timesheets Friday during second free practice for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa...
As chief rivals McLaren Mercedes continue stabbing around for a sense of normalcy to this young season, Ferrari stuck both cars atop timesheets Friday during second free practice for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa led Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, Nico Rosberg of Williams F1, Mark Webber of Red Bull, Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button of Brawn GP, and Kazuki Nakajima of Williams F1.
Raikkonen's KERS battery caught fire during first practice making for some uncomfortable moments for the former world champion before he was able to leap from the crate, er, the F60. The unit acted up again as the second session ended. The 3.44-mile Sepang International Circuit with its two long straights in a distinctive V shape has been targeted as a perfect place for the kinetic energy recovery system, the electrical-storage unit that gives drivers an on-demand, six-second power boost. Raikkonen posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 35.707 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than teammate Massa. Vettel was the only other driver below 1:36.
The McLarens were at midpack by the end of the second session. Heikki Kovalainen improved a 10th place to ninth on the final lap, but Lewis Hamilton could do no better than 12th. The Englishman was fined $1,600 for speeding in the pit lane during morning practice.
McLaren's off-track results were worse. Sporting director Dave Ryan was reported as suspended by the team and then as having resigned after 35 years with McLaren. He was the team's point man in dealing with FIA officials who Thursday took the decision to disqualify Hamilton from the Australian Grand Prix.
"In my 20-odd years working for McLaren, I doubt if I've met a more dedicated individual than Davey," team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. "He's been an integral part of McLaren since 1974 and has played a crucial role in the team's many world championship successes since that time.
"However, his role in the events of last Sunday, particularly his dealings with the FIA stewards, has caused serious repercussions for the team, for which we apologize. Therefore, I suspended him this morning and he has accepted this."
Radio remarks prompted officials to revisit demotion of Toyota's Jarno Trulli for illegally passing Hamilton, during a safety car period, in the final laps at Melbourne. Stewards who had made their ruling without benefit of hearing radio communication between driver and pit ruled Hamilton had been "seriously misleading" in his remarks about events.
Whitmarsh scheduled a news conference for Friday in Malaysia amid reports that Ryan has resigned.
The Williams duo of Rosberg and Nakajima had swept first free practice, Rosberg marking four consecutive practice sessions as fastest man on track.
A strong showing by Red Bull might mitigate another source of unrest in the sport, diffusers on Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars. Red Bull led a protest against the design of the diffusers but stewards in Australia approved the cars for competition. An appeal of that decision is scheduled to be heard by the FIA in Paris on April 14. That puts results from the Australian and Malaysian races under threat of change; Australian results have changed twice since the race ended.
Renault's Nelson Piquet split the McLarens of Kovalainen and Hamilton in Friday's second session. His teammate, double world champion Fernando Alonso, came 15th in a difficult day compounded by an ear infection that forced him to leave the track Thursday on medical advice to return to his hotel and rest.
The Toyotas' of Trulli and Timo Glock were also downfield, Trulli 14th and Glock 16th. But no to[p team fared as badly as BMW Sauber, whose Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld timed 17th and 20th, respectively.
Giancarlo Fisichella put his Force India off wide then bounced into a wall, breaking the front suspension. His teammate, Adrian Sutil, was 16th quick.
Sebastien Buemi continued to outpace Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Buemi timed at 13th, Bourdais in 18th.