• Malaysian Grand Prix - FP2

Hamilton stays on top at Sepang

ESPNF1 Staff
March 23, 2012

Lewis Hamilton held on to his position at the top of the timesheets during second practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix as McLaren looks set for another competitive race weekend.

Hamilton clocked a 1:38.172 on the softer compound tyres, but was over a tenth of a second shy of his fastest lap in first practice set on hard tyres. Part of that can be attributed to some traffic Hamilton came across in the final corner, which may have cost him a tenth or two heading on to the pit straight.

Nevertheless, he was still comfortably faster than his nearest competitor, Michael Schumacher, who was 0.361 seconds shy of the McLaren. Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button was just 0.004s off Schumacher and third fastest ahead of the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

Outside the top four the picture was murkier, with Red Bull some way off the pace and Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso in fifth. Fernando Alonso put in a respectable lap in the Ferrari, 0.719s off Hamilton, for sixth fastest and showed signs of decent long-run pace, which correlates with his impressive performance in Australia last Sunday.

Mark Webber was seventh fastest in the Red Bull, but was roughly 0.4s off team-mate Sebastian Vettel's fastest time from the first session, indicating that the RB8 was not running at full speed. Jean-Eric Vergne ensured both Toro Rosso's featured in the top ten and was faster than Romain Grosjean's Lotus and Vettel back in tenth, who complained about his car's balance over the team radio at one stage.

After featuring in the top ten in first practice, the two Force Indias found themselves in 12th and 13th in the afternoon session behind Pastor Maldonado's Williams in 11th. Paul di Resta, who was slower than he was in the morning, ran off the track on a couple of occasions thanks to a puncture early in the session and a huge slide in turn five later on. After his first spin, which was at the final corner, he quickly returned to the pits and his left-rear brake caught fire delaying his return to the circuit.

Kamui Kobayashi in 14th also lost track time when his Sauber mechanics removed the gearbox from his car 20 minutes into the session. He managed to return to the track before the chequered flag and completed 16 laps in total with a fastest time of 1:39.687.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were 15th and 16th, but both were slower than their times on hard tyres in first practice so should have time in hand when it comes to final practice and qualifying.

The HRTs were well within 107% of Hamilton's fastest time and racked up 40 laps between them which bodes well for qualifying .