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Hamilton hits back in FP2


While it was Nico Rosberg who topped the timesheets earlier, it was Kevin Magnussen who grabbed the headlines, the Dane's Renault igniting in the pitlane and bringing out the red flags for a stoppage that lasted almost twenty minutes.

The French team is still unclear about exactly what caused the fire but initial investigations point to a breather issue.

The final order was almost symmetrical, with Mercedes heading Ferrari, Red Bull and Force India, Fernando Alonso slightly spoiling things by putting his McLaren - complete with updated engine that has cost him a 60-place grid penalty - finishing fifth quickest.

The revisions to the track, which include a total resurfacing and the re-profiling of a number of corners have clearly have certainly had the desired effect with lap times much faster than previous years. On the other hand, the new surface, and the lack of available data, saw a number of drivers experience excursions including the two championship contenders.

We saw a good mixture of tyres earlier, all three compounds making an appearance, with the heat and track surface leading to a lot of degradation.

As the lights go green, the air temperature is 34 degrees C, while the track temperature is 58 degrees.

Gutierrez is first out, followed by teammate Grosjean, the Mexican on hards and his teammate on mediums.

Alonso follows the Haas duo, the Spaniard on softs.

Gutierrez gets proceedings underway with a 38.475 but this is soon beaten by Alonso who stops the clock at 38.158. Grosjean posts 38.962, having gone wide in the final corner.

On board footage shows the mammoth task facing the likes of Palmer, his Renault all over the place on its hard tyres, the rears seemingly having a mind of their own. He finally crosses the line at 40.317.

Vettel raises the bar with a 37.333 but moments later Rosberg goes 0.790s quicker. Both are on the medium rubber.

The Force India duo go third and fourth on mediums, Hulkenberg the quicker of the two, as the Red Bull duo head out.

Hamilton complains that his "steering is not straight". Unlike his teammate he is on the hards.

While Ricciardo is quicker than Rosberg in S1, he loses time in S2 and finally crosses the line at 37.001 to go second. Moments later he is demoted when Hamilton posts 36.622, just 0.079s down on his teammate but on the harder rubber.

Verstappen posts 37.26 to go fourth, like his teammate he is on the medium rubber, neither driver having tried the soft yet.

Hamilton goes quickest on the hards (36.144), 0.399s up on his teammate, subsequently improving to 35.956.

Told that there is a "tailwind in to T7," Hulkenberg replies: "Yeah, I can feel it pretty badly".

Clearly different strategies for the Ferrari duo. Vettel is currently fifth quickest and now on the softs while Raikkonen, who has completed the most laps (10), is 19th on the hards.

Vettel subsequently improves to 35.605 to go quickest by 0.351s. however, the German is only reasonably happy with his lap and is keen to do another.

Magnussen is in the Renault. However, the car is up on its stand and stripped down and not looking as though it will be going anywhere any time soon.

Rosberg is now on softs and having gone quickest in the opening two sectors finally crosses the line at 35.177, opening a 0.428s gap over Vettel.

Ricciardo's switch to the yellow banded rubber isn't quite as impressive, the Australian only managing 36.337, over a second slower than Rosberg.

A 36.284 sees Perez go fourth, the Mexican having given a Suzuka deadline in terms of his plans for 2017.

As Hamilton looks set to improve, Raikkonen complains that something is "not correct with the car". "We have to check the car," he warns his team.

Hamilton posts 34.944 to go quickest as Alonso goes sixth with a 36.307.

Approaching 'half-time', it's: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Verstappen, Perez, Alonso, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz and Palmer.

A big moment in T7/8 for Bottas the car desperately wanting to change ends as the Finn runs wide.

With 47 minutes remaining, Magnussen is back on track courtesy of some sterling work by his team.

However, the lack of running in FP12 takes its toll, the Dane gets it wrong in the final corner and heads off across the grass and into the pitlane entrance.

Despite only having completed 6 laps Massa is on the pit-wall. An issue, or has he gathered the data he needs. Currently 13th, his Williams teammate is 11th.

Alonso improves but remains sixth, 1.352s down on pace-setter Hamilton.

Button is unhappy with the changes made to his car. Asked if he wants go back to the previous settings the answer is definitely in the affirmative.

Told he is one-hundredth behind Perez, Alonso says "if we can improve the up-shift it will be fantastic". Meanwhile, Perez is told to keep an eye on his "left rear temperature".

Back on track, Raikkonen's first lap on the softs sees the Finn go seventh (36.330).

A brief duel between Perez and Magnussen, the Dane taking advantage in the final corner as the re-profiled track causes the Mexican to run wide.

Check out our Friday gallery from Sepang, here.


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