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Malaysian GP FP2: Lewis Hamilton fastest but Ferrari and Red Bull race pace strong

Malaysian GP FP2: Lewis Hamilton fastest but Ferrari and Red Bull race pace strong
Sep 30, 2016, 8:41 AM

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Nico Rosberg.

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Nico Rosberg.

But the long runs showed that their rivals are on the same pace, especially on the soft and medium tyre compounds, which puts pressure on Mercedes to conquer their recent startling issues.

The world champion’s best lap of 1m34.944s was set just before the halfway point in the 90-minute session and it put him 0.233s ahead of Rosberg, who had topped the day’s earlier FP1 session, which was disrupted by a fire that engulfed Kevin Magnussen’s Renault in the Sepang pitlane.

Rosberg had been fastest during the early running on the medium tyres in FP2 before Hamilton managed to go almost 0.4s faster on the hard Pirelli tyres in the hot track temperatures in Malaysia.

Lewis Hamilton

When the field moved onto their qualifying simulation runs on the soft compound tyres, Rosberg reclaimed the top spot, which had briefly been taken by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, before Hamilton used his own flying lap on the softs to set the session’s best time.

Vettel finished third fastest, 0.661s adrift of Hamilton, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari. The 2007 world champion had complained about “something not right” on his car as he languished near the bottom of the timesheets for much of FP2, before he put in a qualifying simulation much later than the rest of the field and moved up to fourth place, just 0.2s behind Vettel.

Ferrari was on the same pace at Mercedes on the long runs on soft, dropping off slightly when they ran comparable long runs on the medium tyres. Hamilton's long run on hard tyres was very fast, indicating that Mercedes has a number of options at its disposal of how to run the race strategy.

On his 19th birthday, Max Verstappen finished in fifth for Red Bull ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who ran an updated Honda engine during both practice sessions in Sepang. Taking the new power unit, which features a lighter and more durable engine block, means Alonso will drop 30 places on the grid ahead of Sunday’s race but he is expected to revert to an older spec engine for the rest of the weekend.

Verstappen was the revelation of the long runs with very strong pace on soft and medium tyres. The teenager has not yet learned all the dark arts of preparing a tyre for single lap qualifying, hence his deficit to Daniel Ricciardo. But he looks set for a strong performance in the race and is likely to mix it with the Ferraris in the race, as he has done a number of times this season.

Fernando Alonso

Daniel Ricciardo was eighth in the second Red Bull, with Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button, who is not running the updated Honda engine, rounding out the top ten in ninth and tenth for Force India and McLaren

Carlos Sainz was warned of a possible brake-by-wire problem on his Toro Rosso towards the end of the session on his way to 11th ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who looked to be struggling with the handling of his car during the early running on Sepang’s new asphalt.

Valtteri Bottas ended up 13th for Williams, with Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa 14th and 15th. Massa a large chunk of the session as a rear axle problem confined him to the garage and he only completed 19 laps aboard his FW38.

Daniil Kvyat finished 16th in the second Toro Rosso ahead of the Sauber’s of Marcus Ericsson, who was fortunate to avoid serious injury ahead of the weekend when he collided with a chicken while cycling in Thailand, and Felipe Nasr.

Magnussen was forced to sit out the first half of FP2 - he eventually came out to set the 19th fastest time - as his Renault team fixed and cleaned his RS16 after it caught fire following his second installation lap in FP1.

As the Danish driver was being pushed back into the pits, flamings began shooting from the car’s airbox and he was forced to leap out as the mechanics and marshals went to work with their fire extinguishers. But the fire persisted and the session was red flagged until it was brought under control and finally put out, which led to a 20-minute delay.

Marcus Ericsson

Romain Grosjean was one of several drivers to lock up at the reprofiled final corner on his way to 20th place in the second Haas F1, as the Manor drivers of Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon, who were first and second through Sepang’s speedtrap, brought up the rear of the field in 21st and 22nd.

Malaysian Grand Prix FP2 results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.944s, 35 laps

2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.177s +0.233s, 36 laps

3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m35.605s +0.661s, 37 laps

4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m35.842s +0.898s, 31 laps

5 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m36.037s +1.093s, 29 laps

6 Sergio Perez Force India 1m36.284s +1.340s, 33 laps

7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m36.296s +1.352s, 27 laps

8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m36.337s +1.393s, 30 laps

9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m36.390s +1.446s, 37 laps

10 Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.715s +1.771s, 22 laps

11 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m36.836s +1.892s, 30 laps

12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m36.940s +1.996s, 36 laps

13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m37.016s +2.072s, 37 laps

14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1m37.048s +2.104s, 28 laps

15 Felipe Massa Williams 1m37.110s +2.166s, 19 laps

16 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m37.297s +2.353s, 29 laps

17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m37.449s +2.505s, 28 laps

18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1m37.547s +2.603s, 26 laps

19 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m37.664s +2.720s, 19 laps

20 Romain Grosjean Haas 1m37.789s +2.845s, 25 laps

21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1m37.878s +2.934s, 34 laps

22 Esteban Ocon Manor 1m37.990s +3.046s, 36 laps

What did you make of Friday practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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