Malaysia GP P2: Lewis Hamilton sets pace from Kimi Raikkonen
World champion fastest despite truncated session; Finn's Ferrari P2 ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes; McLaren still two seconds off the pace; Manor make 2015 track debut
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 28/03/15 12:44pm
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Friday practice at the Malaysia GP despite a truncated day's running for the world champion at Sepang.
Hamilton was sidelined during the morning's session and Mercedes' attempts to rectify the problems - affecting the inlet system on his W06's power unit - also kept him in the garage until midway through P2.
Even then it was hardly plain sailing as telemetry problems prompted another spell in the pits, while Hamilton also reported gearbox problems.
However, in between the Mercedes driver managed to lap the 5.543km track in a time of 1:39.790 to go 0.373s faster than Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
“It was an amazing job by the guys to get the engine and gearbox back on and get me back out. Particularly here where it’s so hot and difficult for the tyres it was really important to get back out and do some laps,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1.
“It affects you quite a bit. Fortunately I got a few laps of a longer run at the end, but in terms of set-up I’ve not made any changes so I’ve driven what I have and it’s quite a bit off of where we need it.”
It remains to be seen whether that gap offers the suggestion that the Scuderia might pose some sort of threat this weekend. With Hamilton P1 even though he spent more time in the garage than on track, team-mate Nico Rosberg was third fastest.
Rosberg had set the pace during the morning and was also fastest with a 1:40.282 on hard tyres early in P2. However, the German could only get to within 0.055s of Raikkonen after switching to mediums - the evidence pointing towards an understeer moment at Turn 8.
Ferrari showed impressive long-run pace later on but their session wasn't necessarily smooth either. Sebastian Vettel was second fastest behind Rosberg on the hard tyre but spoiled his qualifying practice run with a spin at the off-camber Turn 11.
“I think the spin was nothing to do with bad luck, it was probably to do with me pushing a bit too much! I thought I could make it stick but couldn’t. I guess if you choose a day [to spin] you choose today," Vettel said.
As such, he ended the session seventh fastest overall behind Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull and Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa.
With the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen eighth ahead of Marcus Ericsson's Sauber, Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10, although the Australian wasn't able to set a time on medium tyres after engine problems intervened.
Further down the order, Fernando Alonso's return to the cockpit ended with the 16th fastest time overall, 2.7 seconds slower than Hamilton but faster than McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
Button was right behind in P17 after complaining of understeer on his McLaren MP4-30, which while running more Honda power this weekend, also has a lower downforce set-up.
In fact, a number of drivers suffered understeer as track temperatures nudged 60 degrees Celsius, although Vettel and Roberto Merhi - who brought out the red flags when he beached his Manor car in the gravel at Turn 11 just moments before Vettel performed an identical pirouette - were the only spinners.
Practice Two Timesheet
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:39.790;
2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:40.163;
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:40.218;
4. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:40.346;
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:40.450;
6. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:40.560;
7. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:40.652;
8. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:41.220;
9. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:41.261;
10. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:41.799;
11. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, 1:41.877;
12. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:41.988;
13. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:42.291;
14. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:42.291;
15. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:42.330;
16. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:42.506;
17. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:42.637;
18. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:42.948;
19. Will Stevens, Manor Marussia, 1:45.704;
20. Roberto Merhi, Manor Marussia, 1:47.229;
Sky Sports F1 will show every session from the Malaysia Grand Prix weekend live and available on the move with Sky Go. The race starts at 8am on Sunday, with comprehensive build-up underway from 6:30am