Friday, 18 April 2014

Hamilton leads the way in FP2 as Maldonado crashes entering the pit-lane

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)
Mercedes Lewis Hamilton recovered from a difficult Free Practice One to record the fastest time of day in the second practice session ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Hamilton, who goes into this weekend's race in search of a hat trick of victories set the benchmark time of 1m 38.315s just 0.141s ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Following the session, Hamilton had this to say:
'It's not been the easiest of days. Obviously we're not that bad but you always want to be better. We're going to work hard tonight to try to find some improvements to the set-up.
The 2008 champion had a suspension issue this morning and said:
'The suspension problem put us on the back foot because you don't have many laps as it is and so every lap counts. Usually in P1 you'll make a set-up change, go out and test it when you get the fresher tyres and then you'll do a longer run on that set. For us we lost a bit of time but it's OK. It's not the first time, so we'll fix whatever problems we have tonight.'
Hamilton's Mercedes team mate and current championship leader Nico Rosberg was third fastest behind Fernando Alonso with Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo once again edging out his team mate Sebastian Vettel albeit by three tenths of a second. Felipe Massa had a good session for the Williams Martini Racing Team as the Brazilian finished the day in 6th place just ahead of former team mate Kimi Raikkonen who recovered from a miserable start to his weekend by recording the seventh fastest time.
Jenson Button was eighth fastest for McLaren just ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, the Frenchman showing that the Enstone team have appeared to progressed with their car, however while the Frenchman was in the top ten his team mate Pastor Maldonado, managed to crash his car while entering the pit-lane. Reporting to the pit-wall the Venezuelan said 'I crashed' to which the team's response was 'Ok'.
Daniil Kvyat put in another solid performance for the Toro Rosso squad as he rounded out the top ten 1.3s behind Hamilton. Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh fastest for the Sahara Force India team and had this to say about his Friday:
'It was quite a smooth day in terms of completing our programme and working through the job list. There is still work to do on the set-up and some things we can try to optimise the car ahead of tomorrow, but on the whole I’m satisfied with what we learnt today. The tyre work went okay and we have all the data that we need on the soft and the medium tyres to prepare for the rest of the weekend.'
Kevin Magnussen was 12th fastest in the second McLaren just ahead of Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso. Valtteri Bottas endured a difficult session for Williams, while his team mate ended the day in 6th place the Finn, ended the day down in 14th place. However it is only the first day of practice and Williams have shown that in both qualifying and the race they are extremely quick. Bottas even started the last race in Bahrain from third on the grid.
Sergio Perez, who had a tough start to his Friday finished the afternoon session in 15th place for Force India just ahead of the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. The Mexican, who finished the Bahrain Grand Prix on the podium behind the two Mercedes had this to say about his Friday:
'I had an issue with the DRS this morning, but the afternoon was much better and we completed our lap target. The tyre work went to plan and, as we expected, the degradation was high on the soft tyre. I’m still not completely happy with the balance so there are some areas to work on overnight'.
Adrian Sutil finished the session just behind his Sauber team mate Esteban Gutierrez in 17th place while Pastor Maldonado was 18th for the Lotus F1 Team following his crash.
Jules Bianchi was the fastest driver of the young team's finishing just ahead of team mate Max Chilton with Kamui Kobasyhi finishing the session just ahead of his Caterham team Marcus Ericsson who rounded out the time sheets in 22nd place.
So what have we learnt today?
  • Mercedes have picked up with their left off in Bahrain
  • Ferrari have made a big step forward
  • Daniel Ricciardo has the measure of Sebastian far
  • Lotus have made progress
©Ben Johnston 2014

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