Hamilton heads Friday practice running at Malaysia

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

TV Notes

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton proved fastest of all in both Friday sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.

In Kuala Lumpur’s typical hot and humid conditions, Hamilton set a best lap in the morning of 1:38.021, falling just over one-tenth shy of this mark in the afternoon.

The 2008 World Champion jumped ahead of Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher in the closing stages of Free Practice 2, before extending the gap further just prior to the chequered flag.
The opening session saw Hamilton head the charts, some five-tenths up on Red Bull man Sebastian Vettel.
It was not all clean from Hamilton. A high fuel run late in the day uncovered balance issues, with the McLaren pilot falling off circuit on a number of occasions.

Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button endured a drawn out morning due to an oil leak failure; however the 2009 World Champion made up for this in the afternoon with some strong running.

Vettel was having difficulties with the medium Pirelli’s due to their quick drop off rate – no doubt accelerated by the Malaysian heat – causing the double world champion to slide around in his RB8.
In a back-to-back test, Mark Webber continued with the exhaust as used in Australia, while Vettel ran the previous version from the final test in Barcelona.

Fernando Alonso spent much of the morning clocking up much needed aerodynamic comparison work – which entailed running a new front wing in FP2 – before testing Pirelli’s different tyre compounds under varying levels of fuel during the later session.
Felipe Massa appeared to be well off of Alonso’s pace; however the Brazilian spent much of his day on a different programme to his Spanish teammate.

Mercedes put their two drivers through their paces, with the focus on tyre evaluations. Between them, Schumacher and Nico Rosberg completed 108 laps of the Sepang circuit, as they strive to manage consistent long runs.

Lotus duo, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean coveted the hard tyres in the morning, while they configured a baseline set-up for the weekend, although there may still be more work to do. Set-up work for the race followed, with Grosjean staying with the hard compound Pirelli and Raikkonen switching to the mediums.
Raikkonen tested a new steering rack in both sessions, following complaints from the Finn regarding the ‘weight’ of feel from the steering wheel. He would suffer from an3 inoperative KERS unit in FP2.
Grosjean lost time in the morning, due to ill-fitting wheelnut dislodging his right rear wheel somewhat.

A brake disc problem was one of several difficulties faced by Force India’s Paul di Resta. The scot also suffered two rather dramatic offs, as well as a few leery moments of rear-end sliding, while Nico Hulkenberg enjoyed a clean day.
Sauber faced severe balance issues, as Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez struggled to get to grips with their Ferrari-powered C31 machine. Although things improved for Perez in long runs after the break, Kobayashi lost further time due to gearbox problem.

Toro Rosso ran some minor aerodynamic evaluations, before moving to set-up programmes for the second session. Neither driver appeared to have any issues, as they notched up 56 laps apiece.
Williams also concentrated on minor aerodynamic adjustments and tyre runs, as they aim for their first points of 2012. Thankfully, none of the drivers reported any issues in their respective FW34 machines. Valtteri Bottas sat in for Bruno Senna during FP1 – the first of fifteen pre-arranged FP1 sessions for the Finn during the coming season. Bottas will be replacing Senna in all his outings.

Set-ups, tyre evaluations and systems checks were the order of the day at Caterham. Despite going the wrong way on set-up in the morning, Heikki Kovalainen was brought back in the afternoon, although poor grip in early tyre stints still bothered the Finn. Kovalainen’s Russian teammate, Vitaly Petrov, discovered no problems during practice.
Marussia focussed on aerodynamic configurations and set-up work, while they continue to learn about the MR01. There was a new floor section on Timo Glock’s car, which appeared to deliver positive results.

Considering how last week’s Australian Grand Prix developed, Friday was a far better day for HRT, with Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan managing 40 and 26 laps respectively. However it wasn’t all good news for the Spanish team, as a hydraulic problem ensured Karthikeyan’s FP1 came to an early halt
Both cars also suffered from cooling problems, which could make the race an extremely tough one for its driver pairing. By the end of FP2, both drivers had placed their Cosworth-powered cars well inside the 107% time as set by Hamilton, as the team continued to claw away at the F112’s fundamental issues. Today also saw the team use DRS for the first time in 2012.

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix (Round 2, Free Practice 1)
Pos  Driver                Team                   Time               Laps  
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m38.021s            19 
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m38.535s  + 0.514   21 
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m38.813s  + 0.792   21 
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m38.826s  + 0.805   19 
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m38.919s  + 0.898   17 
 6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m39.092s  + 1.071   20 
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1m39.128s  + 1.107   22 
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1m39.298s  + 1.277   23 
 9.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m39.323s  + 1.302   15 
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m39.440s  + 1.419   19
11.  Valterri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1m39.724s  + 1.703   23
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1m39.783s  + 1.762   23 
13.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m39.896s  + 1.875   16 
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m39.910s  + 1.889   21 
15.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1m39.980s  + 1.959   23 
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m40.099s  + 2.078   23 
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1m40.247s  + 2.226   19 
18.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m40.469s  + 2.448   23 
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1m40.857s  + 2.836   25 
20.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m41.085s  + 3.064   23 
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1m43.170s  + 5.149   18 
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1m44.580s  + 6.559   14 
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m45.360s  + 7.339    8 
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1m45.528s  + 7.507   18
^Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.
2012 Malaysian Grand Prix (Round 2, Free Practice 2)
Pos  Driver                Team                  Time               Laps 
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m38.172             28 
 2.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m38.533s  + 0.361   34 
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m38.535s  + 0.363   29 
 4.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m38.696s  + 0.524   34 
 5.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m38.853s  + 0.681   33 
 6.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m38.891s  + 0.719   27 
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m39.133s  + 0.961   29 
 8.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m39.297s  + 1.125   33 
 9.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1m39.311s  + 1.139   22 
10.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m39.402s  + 1.230   25 
11.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1m39.444s  + 1.272   35 
12.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1m39.464s  + 1.292   26 
13.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1m39.625s  + 1.453   20 
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1m39.687s  + 1.515   16 
15.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1m39.696s  + 1.524   29 
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m40.271s  + 2.099   27 
17.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1m40.678s  + 2.506   34 
18.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1m40.947s  + 2.775   33 
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1m41.464s  + 3.292   25 
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1m41.681s  + 3.509   20 
21.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1m42.594s  + 4.422   18 
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1m42.874s  + 4.702   24 
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1m43.658s  + 5.486   18 
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1m43.283s  + 5.561   22
^Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.

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