Hamilton heads Mercedes 1-2 in FP2


Ahead of today's second practice session the air temperature is 23 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees.

Fernando Alonso was quickest this morning, ahead of Button, Bottas, Massa, Ricciardo and Rosberg.

The big talking point however was Lewis Hamilton's failure to complete a single lap after suffering a sensor problem. Then there was the continuing saga at Lotus where neither driver posted a time. Indeed, while Grosjean never made an appearance, Maldonado came out late in the session but suffered a fire in the cockpit on his out lap. There were problems for the Caterham duo also.

Sutil is first out, followed by Ericsson, while in the Lotus garage, promisingly, Grosjean is in his car.

Caterham reveals that Kobayashi had a power unit related fuel system issue which required the engine being removed. "Taking a 2014 Power Unit off the car is a complex job, taking much longer than the old V8s," tweets the team, "hence no time to fix it to run in FP2."

As Sutil posts 1:38.055, more and more drivers take to the track, among them Hamilton and Grosjean. The Frenchman has a power steering issue and a "false neutral".

It's a Williams 1-2 as Bottas posts 33.227 and Massa a 33.462. Moments later Hamilton goes fourth with a 35.748 only to be demoted when Hulkenberg posts 33.094.

Following a moment, Ricciardo admits: "It got away from me and caught me by surprise".

A 32.013 sees Rosberg go quickest with Vettel slipping into second, the Red Bull showing a lot more promise than witnessed in Bahrain.

Another off for Vergne (T3), both Toro Rosso drivers having more than their fair share of excursions this morning, thought to be down to the brake-by-wire.

Indeed, a number of drivers are having problems keeping it on the black stuff, Vettel the latest to run wide (T1). The German is subsequently told that he had two wheels on the grass, "yes, I know" he replies.

Alonso goes second with a 32.046 however, shortly after, teammate Raikkonen (currently ninth) stops at the end of the pitlane. He is subsequently rescued by his mechanics and pushed back to the garage. Ironically, the Spaniard was stuck behind him at the time.

Ricciardo goes quickest in S1 and again in S2, finally crossing the line at 30.597. The Australian is on the softer rubber as are Rosberg and Hulkenberg.

Meanwhile, Grosjean takes to the kitty litter having gone off at the chicane. He continues.

Rosberg retakes the top spot with a 29.782 while Hulkenberg subsequently goes third (31.054).

After thirty minutes, Ericsson, Maldonado and Kobayashi have yet to post a time, the Japanese and Venezuelan both effectively out.

Bottas improves to third (30.920) having posted PBs in all three sectors. Moments later Vettel bangs in a 30.381 to go second, albeit 0.6s off Rosberg's pace.

Hamilton almost trips up over a very slow Kvyat, the Mercedes driver clearly unimpressed.

Raikkonen is back on track, his problem, thought to be gear selection, seemingly resolved. Elsewhere, Button goes third with a 30.510 though, curiously, his only PB was in S3.

At 'half-time', it's: Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Magnussen, Hulkenberg and Massa.

Shortly after Massa gets very, very out of shape in T1, former teammate Alonso is seen wrestling with the Ferrari. As expected, though much quieter than their predecessors, the 2014 cars are hard to handle.

Finally on softs, Hamilton goes quickest with a 29.625, to make it a Mercedes 1-2.

Caught on camera, Force India boss Vijay Mallya says: "We need that Formula One noise, bring it back".

Kvyat getting in the way again, this times it's Bottas who suffers. The Russian, the youngest on the grid, subsequently complains that he cannot warm up the tyres as he has too many things to do.

A massive lock up in T15 for Grosjean now on the softer rubber. He subsequently has another slide at T14 before locking up in T1.

As Vettel has a little twitch - albeit one that would scare the living daylights out of us mere mortals - most drivers are now focussing on longer runs.

Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.

A little silliness involving Vettel and Gutierrez, the Sauber driver eventually coming off the worst as he is forced wide.

Rosberg asks for advice from his team on tyres and fuel. He is advised that he is "on target" in terms of fuel, unlike Bottas who is advised to practice fuel saving over the next couple of laps.

With fifteen minutes remaining, all but Gutierrez and Grosjean are on track, Raikkonen getting perilously close to the unforgiving Melbourne walls.

Grosjean is back in the pits having completed just 11 laps, however, that's 11 more than his teammate has managed today. Same goes for the Caterham duo.

Kvyat runs wide and kicks up the dust in his efforts to avoid holding up Alonso, a trip through the kitty litter for Perez at T9.

Shortly after another off for Kvyat, there are spins for Grosjean and Hulkenberg, both retiring on the spot. Replay of the incident shows both cars appearing to snap out mid-corner, the Lotus subsequently hitting the barrier and then heading into the gravel. Smoke is billowing from the front brakes on Hulkenberg's car.

The session ends with Hamilton quickest, ahead of Rosberg, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Bottas, Magnussen and Hulkenberg.

Vergne is eleventh, ahead of Massa, Perez, Sutil, Gutierrez, Kvyat, Bianchi, Grosjean and Chilton.

While the Mercedes duo do clearly have the edge, the Ferraris, McLarens and Red Bulls look good. Vettel, in particular, quicker than Alonso on the longer runs, but slower than the Mercedes.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

Chris Balfe

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Published: 14/03/2014
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