Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton topped the second free practice session at Albert Park in Melbourne this morning.
The three-time world champion was as equally dominant on the timesheets as he was in the opening session, with Hamilton setting a best time of 1:23.620 – a half-second clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Not only was the Mercedes quick on its low fuel run, Hamilton also displayed fine longer run pace on the Pirelli ultrasoft tyres too, eventually losing some three seconds, raising ominous signs for the weekend ahead.
Vettel’s best also came on the ultrasofts, although he will be hoping more can etched from the Ferrari.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas registered 3rd spot with a 1:24.176s; however the Finn may argue that he lost a chunk of time in the final sector of his fastest run. Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top four with an effort nine-tenths shy of Hamilton’s best.
The Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were next up, with Ricciardo setting a best of 1:25.650s and Verstappen four-tenths slower, although the Dutch teen set his best on the super-softs as opposed to the ultrasofts. Verstappen’s session ended slightly earlier than he had wished however – he damaged the floor of his Red Bull machine during an off.
Carlos Sainz set 7th in the Red Bull-backed Toro Rosso, ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Haas, who took 8th spot, despite a number of lock-ups during the session. Niko Hulkenberg enjoyed a quiet session to 9th in the factory Renault; however it was less serene for teammate Jolyon Palmer who crashed out early in practice in the final corner, destroying the rear wing in the process.
Daniil Kvyat made it four Red Bull-backed drivers in the top ten with some confident long runs, although the Russian had a light scare in the opening minutes when he overshot the first corner.
Felipe Massa (Williams) had his session cut short thanks to gearbox issues around the 35 minute mark. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson spun off at turn six, five minutes for the chequered flag enduing his day early, while Kevin Magnussen (Haas) endured disruptive running due to technical issues.