Mercedes dominant again
Friday’s second free practice session contiued where Petronas left off with Mercedes dominant again under the floodlights as they had been in the bright sunshine of FP1.
Is the domination set to continue….have your say…..plus there’s the offer of a FREE £50 bet on the race…..read on!
Hamilton was fastest on Pirelli’s medium compound tyre with 1m 36.506s, and stayed ahead when everyone switched to the soft tyre two-thirds of the way through.
He ended up on top by 0.365s from Rosberg after lapping in 1m 34.325s to his team mate’s 1m 34.690s. At one stage the German got it all wrong at Turn 10, and regained the track in a wide clockwise loop after failing to make the left-hander.
He also was deemed to have impeded Sergio Perez’s Force India, and was handed a reprimand by the stewards as a result. Fernando Alonso, Mercedes’ closest opposition in the Ferrari, was just over a second behind.
Another difficult day for Red Bull, from which Daniel Ricciardo salvaged fourth place on 1m 35.433s, a time which Williams’ Felipe Massa narrowly failed to beat.
The Brazilian didn’t run for most of the session but soon carved down to 1m 35.442s once he did get going. That pushed Jenson Button down to sixth after he’d lapped his McLaren in 1m 35.528s.
Sebastian Vettel lost a little time with a downshift problem early on, then struggled on the medium tyre and eventually had to settle for seventh place on 1m 35.606s.
The Red Bull driver had the two rookies Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen right on his tail for Toro Rosso and McLaren respectively, with laps of 1m 35.640s and 1m 35.662s.
This time Perez was Force India’s faster runner in 10th place with 1m 35.802s, ahead of Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who like team mate Massa did not run much.
The Finn recorded 1m 35.920s to lead spinner Jean-Eric Vergne on 1m 35.972s and Nico Hulkenberg in the other Force India on 1m 35.998s.
Kimi Raikkonen, whose Ferrari needed repairs after launching over a kerb in FP1, had an unhappy day and was down in 14th place with 1m 36.366s.
That left him ahead of the close-matched Saubers of Adrian Sutil (who briefly stopped on track) and Esteban Gutierrez on 1m 36.962s and 1m 36.975s respectively.
The Lotuses came in two by two too, with Pastor Maldonado on 1m 37.259s after a scary aerial moment over the Turn 4 exit kerb, and Romain Grosjean on 1m 37.599s.
Jules Bianchi headed Marussia team mate Max Chilton with a good lap of 1m 37.800s. The Briton did 1m 38.247s before his MR03 spun wildly out of control at Turn 4 after a front-left brake disc failure.
At the back the Caterhams were close to Chilton, with Kamui Kobayashi on 1m 38.257s and Marcus Ericsson on 1m 39.136s. Towards the end the Swede rolled to a halt with mechanical problems.
For full results from FP2, click here.
Race Day View…..
Fernando Alonso performed minor miracles to finish fourth in the Malaysian Grand Prix, and with his Ferrari becoming more competitive the Spaniard can get on the podium in Bahrain this weekend…
You know the story. The car’s broken down and you need it fixed. You ring the garage. “Bring it in a week next Tuesday, we may be able to look at it then,” they say.
That’s how it works in real life, but not in Formula One. Not only do they change a complete set of wheels in something like 2.5 seconds, they do the same for front wings and rear wings.
Engines tend to take a little longer, mind – probably 15 minutes or so. And when it comes to rebuilding the complete car you could be looking at getting on for an hour.
That at least is how it seems when you read about what the mechanics did for Fernando Alonso to get him into shape for the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend.
His Ferrari was smashed in a collision with Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat that seemed to have wrecked his qualifying chances. Instead it was stitched back together in double quick time, and Alonso ended up fourth on the grid.
What the pit crew did was brilliant enough. But it now emerges that what Alonso also did in both qualifying and the race itself was every bit as magnificent.
The repairs had to be less than perfect or not at all, and so the Spaniard who was World champion in 2005 and 2006 was left wrestling with the car throughout.
“To turn right I could move the steering wheel with one finger, but to turn to the left I struggled with both hands,” he explained. It’s a story worth knowing when you think that for the second race in a row Alonso ended up in fourth place.
While Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have got the easy start to the season with the two fastest cars thanks to Mercedes getting ahead of the game with the new engines, the rest are really having to prove the quality of their driving.
That’s where Alonso, who last season nursed a dog of a car into position to still be contending for the title in the second half of the season, can come to the fore.
Alonso has been making good noises about the work being done by Ferrari to make the car more competitive, and especially about what we can expect in Bahrain.
That’s where some significant pre-season testing was done, and that data will help the mechanics set the car up better (it could hardly be worse than after last week’s crash, after all).
Ferrari have also had early problems with that thorny issue that dogged most of last year, the Pirelli tyres. The hard compounds used in Malaysia caused their car to slide more than normal, meaning the softer ones in the heat of Bahrain will help.
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