F1 Malaysia: Friday Practice 2; Hamilton Fastest Again, Vettel Improves, with Mercedes Also Fast

What Happens When No Rain Makes For Long Runs

2:52am EST — Lewis Hamilton continued his dominance of the 2010 Malaysian GP weekend, with a fastest time of 1:34.175 in the second practice session.  He led Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, and Michael Schumacher, a remarkably similar top five to the first session.  Mark Webber suffered an odd loss of power that removed him from the session after only running for thirty-plus minutes and left him twentieth fastest.  Fernando Alonso recovered some time after a number of long runs to post the seventh fastest time, with teammate Felip Massa fifteenth fastest in a session marked by decently clean driving and high numbers of laps posted by nearly all the drivers.

A half hour into the session, the timesheet looked remarkably like that at the end of the first practice, with Hamilton leading Rosberg, Button, Schumacher, and Sutil.  The fastest time was just two tenths faster than that of the first session, as Schumacher moved past Button and teammate Rosberg into the second fastest position.  many of the drivers had begun longer runs, even as the session began two hours before the scheduled starts for qualifying and the race.  Also at that point, Hamilton was the only driver to post a time in the 1:34s range.  The weather was, as Mercedes put it, “After a brief rain shower, the sun is back out in Sepang and it is hot!!!!”

Thirty-four minutes into the session, Mark Webber seemingly pulled off directly into a gravel trap from the fifteenth fastest position.  Nothing appeared to go wrong on the car, though pulling into the gravel and requiring track workers to hoist the car away seemed quite an odd way to go about leaving the circuit.  At that point, Webber was the fastest of the Red Bulls and Ferraris, who were in fifteenth through eighteenth positions (Alonso, Vettel, Massa).  According to the team’s official Twitter account, “Officially? It’s a loss of power in Mark’s car.”  It would be the end of his session.

Halfway through the hour and a half session, Hamilton remained fastest, as Rosberg and Schumacher traded the second fastest time between themselves.  Button was fourth fastest, and Sebastian Buemi completed the top five.  Renault teammates Kubica and Petrov were sixth and seventh, with Sutil, Kobayashi, and de la Rosa the rest of the fastest ten.  Two seconds covered the top ten, as Hamilton and Schumacher began setting some faster times with the latter becoming the second man into the 1:34s for the weekend.  Hamilton responded by setting a 1:34.175, as Button moved into second, also in the 1:34s.

Timo Glock gained distinction as the first new team driver to set a lap time below 1:40, as 10.3 second cover the entire field, three seconds more than in the first practice.  With thirty-five minutes remaining, Vettel finally posted a competitive time, moving up to fifth fastest, with a 1:34.863, despite radioing back about some power steering issues.  He had been working on long runs, as had Webber and Alonso, whose 23 laps were the most posted to that point in the session.  Hamilton, meanwhile, had not been doing long runs and appeared to be focusing, along with teammate Button, on qualifying runs.  Might be a good strategy, with race-day weather seeming to be similar to that last year.  That, you’ll remember, ended the race early and brought in only half points.

Jaime Alguersuari had a moment that ended up with a trip through the gravel and grass, though he continued on with a half hour left.  Vettel had a similar, though not through the gravel, moment at the same corner just after.  Hamilton still led, now with Vettel, Rosberg, Button, and Schumacher as the top five.  Seventeenth fastest Alonso, according to Ferrari, “is happier with this type of tyres (soft).”  With twenty minutes left, nearly half the field was in the garage, preparing for a final run or two.

Back on the same set of softs as before, Alonso moved up to seventh fastest, as Button radioed back to McLaren that the “back end was moving around a hell of a lot” in turn seven and eight.  His best lap was fourth fastest.  Many of the teams were taking advantage of the session as a test session, with some high numbers of laps run.  For example, the Toro Rossos posted thirty-one laps, the Ferraris twenty-eight, and other teams in similar amounts with ten minutes left.

With five minutes left, Ferrari announced, “fernando back on the track with hard tyres. felipe’s crew is try to solve a small issue on the rear.”  He soon returned to the circuit on soft tires, leaving only Webber and Petrov in the garage with three minutes left in the session.  No dramatic times were set at the very end, leaving the standings generally as they had been for the previous ten or twenty minutes.  Afterward, Ferrari noted, “There is a lot of work to do to prepare the race: we can foresee a very difficult weekend.”

Final Times from FP2 for the Malaysian GP:

Driver Time Gap Laps
1. Hamilton 1:34.175 27
2. Vettel 1:34.441 +.226 28
3. Rosberg 1:34.443 +.268 30
4. Button 1:34.538 +.363 24
5. Schumacher 1:34.674 +.499 30
6. Kubica 1:35.148 +.973 34
7. Alonso 1:35.581 +1.406 34
8. Buemi 1:35.660 +1.485 39
9. Petrov 1:35.872 +1.697 20
10. Sutil 1:35.957 +1.782 32
11. Kobayashi 1:36.018 +1.843 38
12. Liuzzi 1:36.221 +2.046 34
13. de la Rosa 1:36.325 +2.150 33
14. Alguersuari 1:36.325 +2.150 39
15. Massa 1:36.602 +2.427 30
16. Barrichello 1:36.813 +2.638 26
17. Hulkenberg 1:37.415 +3.240 19
18. Trulli 1:38.454 +4.279 34
19. Kovalainen 1:38.530 +4.355 32
20. Webber 1:38.786 +4.611 13
21. Glock 1:39.061 +4.886 23
22. di Grassi 1:39.158 +4.983 29
23. Chandhok 1:41.084 +6.909 27
24. Senna 1:41.481 +7.306 32

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