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March 23rd, 2012
Lewis Hamilton completed a perfect day’s work as he continued to lead the way after the second free practice session at Sepang on Friday.
The 2008 world champion appeared to have put the disappointment of Melbourne behind him as he ended the day more than 0.3s ahead of the chasing pack, his leading pursuers Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button.
Hamilton dominated for much of the session as the two McLarens and the two Mercedes vied at the top of the times.
In contrast to his team-mate Button, Hamilton had a trouble-free day. He set the fastest time early on, then lost the top spot to Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso, before moving back to the top of the times at half distance.
Ten minutes later the 2008 world champion was usurped by Schumacher’s 1m38.533s on a low-fuel medium-tyre run. Hamilton re-emerged from the pits and banged in a response of 1m38.513s – also on mediums. He followed that up with a 1m38.172s.
Button was in there too with the sister McLaren, just two thousandths slower than Schumacher, the Briton having lost more time in P2 to a minor brake issue – he spent a period in the pits during P1 because of an oil leak.
Nico Rosberg was the quietest of this quartet, and almost unnoticed he snuck into fourth ahead of Ricciardo, whose best lap was set on mediums.
There was some cheer for Ferrari as Fernando Alonso went sixth quickest, 0.7s second away from Hamilton’s pace, and much less from the cluster of cars immediately in front of him.
Mark Webber was only seventh fastest for Red Bull, though his long run was much closer to the sharp edge of the race pace.
Jean-Eric Vergne was eighth fastest ahead of Romain Grosjean and world champion Sebastian Vettel – who didn’t appear to be enjoying his day in the Red Bull, radioing into his team at one point that he was struggling with the tyres.
Several drivers complained about a lack of grip and Paul di Resta knew all about that after two separate trips into the grass. The first was caused by a front right brake issue at Turn 15 which necessitated a long pitstop, the second was a driving error at Turn Six as the Force India grabbed a bite of inside kerb.
Kamui Kobayashi spent at least half an hour in the pits with a gearbox issue, but still ended up placing 14th, one position ahead of Lotus ace Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn’s former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was the next man along in 16th.
The only other incident of note was Narain Karthikeyan’s spin at the final hairpin just as the session came to a close.
The feared rain never materialised.
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
All Timing Unofficial