Formula 1 News

Hamilton and Rosberg on top in FP2 at Melbourne

Mercedes dominated the session with Alonso coming on with third best time.
Friday, March 14, 2014

MELBOURNE, March 14, 2014 (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set the pace in practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday as Mercedes shaped as the team to beat at the much awaited season-opener.

With teams adapting to a raft of technical changes in Formula One, Hamilton overcame mechanical problems in the first session to time quickest in the second run-out ahead of his team-mate.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was third fastest while four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, who endured endless problems in pre-season testing, placed an encouraging fourth.

"We got a nice foundation for the weekend in the second session today so hopefully we can build on that in P3 (free practice three) tomorrow afternoon and then see where we are in qualifying," said Hamilton, the 2008 world champion.

"While it was disappointing to not get any track time this morning, we got up to pace quite quickly in P2 and found the balance relatively fast.

"I feel quite comfortable in the car so overall it's a positive start."

The sessions were closely watched as the revamped cars, with new, quieter turbocharged engines and energy recovery systems, took to the Melbourne circuit for the first time.

Hamilton and Rosberg have been tipped to fight it out in Sunday's race, given Mercedes' superior pre-season testing and adjustment to the technical changes, which also include a fuel limit.

Hamilton put in a scorching lap on soft tyres to post a best time of one minute 29.625, some 0.157secs ahead of Germany's Rosberg (1:29.782).

The Mercedes duo were the only drivers to go below 1:30, demonstrating an early edge over the rest of the field ahead of Saturday's qualifying for grid positions.

Ferrari's Alonso backed up from topping first practice with the third best time of 1:30.132, just over a half-second slower than Hamilton.

Defending world champion Vettel was fourth quickest in his Red Bull in 1:30.381, 0.756secs down on Hamilton but delighted to have completed 41 laps in his troubled car.

"I'm quite surprised today, both Dan (Ricciardo) and I did a lot of laps so that's very good news, so let's see what tomorrow brings," said Vettel, who carried the initials of stricken great Michael Schumacher on his helmet visor.

"At the end of Friday times are not worth a lot but it is better to be closer to the top rather than somewhere lost in the back.

"In terms of speed we know there is a lot more to come but so far it feels very good."

Earlier Hamilton had an inauspicious start to his 2014 season when his Mercedes stopped on its first lap of the first practice session, with smoke coming from the rear of the car.

The Briton got out and the car was towed back to the team garage, in a setback for the Mercedes team.

Hamilton, one of the sport's best known drivers, also had the indignity of having his pass checked by security as he returned to the paddock still wearing his race helmet.

Mercedes reported that an oil pressure alarm had led to a precautionary shutdown in his car and Hamilton showed no problems in the second session.

McLaren's former world champion Jenson Button had a promising day, finishing high in both practice sessions and clocking the fifth best time of 1:30.510 in the second run.

Vettel's new Australian team-mate Ricciardo got in plenty of laps, 38, in the second Red Bull car and finished sixth.

Alonso's new Ferrari stablemate Kimi Raikkonen was seventh, ahead of Finland's Valtteri Bottas in a Williams and Danish debutant Kevin Magnussen driving a McLaren.

Japan's Kamui Kobayashi in a Caterham missed the entire second practice session after experiencing problems in the first session, meaning his whole day was wiped out.

Pastor Maldonado also sat out the second session after problems with his Lotus, while Caterham's Marcus Ericsson only managed one lap in second practice.

2014 Australian GP FP2 provisional times:

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.625   37
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:29.782 0.157 31
3 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:30.132 0.507 28
4 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.381 0.756 41
5 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.510 0.885 33
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.538 0.913 38
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:30.898 1.273 32
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:30.920 1.295 38
9 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:31.031 1.406 34
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:31.054 1.429 33
11 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:31.060 1.435 35
12 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:31.119 1.494 31
13 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:31.283 1.658 36
14 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.355 2.730 36
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:32.468 2.843 26
16 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:32.495 2.870 36
17 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:33.486 3.861 29
18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:33.646 4.021 12
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:34.757 5.132 29
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault No time   1
21 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault No time   0
22 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault No time   0

 

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