Formula 1 News

Hamilton leading the way in first practice at Sepang

Vettel followed half a second behind and then the two promising Mercedes of Rosberg and Schumacher.
Friday, March 23, 2012

SEPANG, Malaysia, March 23, 2012 (AFP) - Britain's Lewis Hamilton set the pace in opening free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix Friday as Mercedes also showed blistering speed aided by their controversial new rear wing.

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McLaren driver Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, set the quickest time of 1min 38.021sec in the 90-minute session, held in scorching heat at the Sepang circuit, half a second ahead of reigning title-holder Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher held the third and fourth positions, in a performance which will bring more attention to their new drag-reduction device despite its all-clear by Formula One officials.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean placed fifth ahead of Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, while McLaren's Jenson Button, who won last week's season-opener in Australia, was ninth.

Despite concerns from rival teams, officials have raised no objections to Mercedes' "W-duct" rear wing which cleverly channels air-flow to cut resistance on the nose when the Drag Reduction System (DRS) overtaking aid is engaged.

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1 Nico Rosberg 238
2 Lewis Hamilton 216
3 Daniel Ricciardo 166
4 Valtteri Bottas 122
5 Fernando Alonso 119
6 Sebastian Vettel 106
1 Mercedes 454
2 Red Bull Racing 272
3 Williams F1 177
4 Ferrari 160
5 McLaren 116
6 Sahara Force India 106

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