F1 Australia FP2 Results & Report: Button Leads Hamilton in Macca 1-2

What Happens When Winter Testing Allows for Important Changes

3:17am EST — McLaren took over the top of the timesheets from Red Bull, with Jenson Button leading the way in the second practice session for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. He and teammate Lewis Hamilton kept the top spot between them for much of the session, especially as the threatening rain fell in the final minutes of practice on Friday. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Mark Webber completed the fastest five. There were no major incidents during the session, though driver after driver had issues with grip and minor trips through gravel and grass. HRT managed to get one car ready, with time enough for Tonio Liuzzi to complete a single installation lap before the checkered flag.

The season opening day of on-track action dawned cool and dreary in Melbourne with a decent wind, but the track was dry when the drivers headed out for the first practice session. Though it took quite some time for any times to be set, the first practice session of the 2011 season ended with Webber leading teammate Vettel on the timesheets. Alonso was third fastest, with Rosberg and Barrichello completing the fastest five. McLaren drivers Button and Hamilton were quicker than expected from the team’s performance in winter testing, ending the session sixth and seventh, respectively. Neither HRT driver set a time, with the team using the session to prepare the new cars for running, with no testing time on their 2011 models.

The second practice session was a turnaround from the first, with quick times coming fast and furiously in the first twenty minutes of the session, despite the spitting rain just before the pit lane was opened. Perez was the first out and the first to set a time, well off the pace. He improved, but was overtaken at the top spot by Vettel, Button, Alonso, and Schumacher. By just twenty minutes into the session, Hamilton (1:26.961) led Rosberg, Button, Massa, Schumacher, Petrov, Alonso, Heidfeld, Perez, and Kobayashi as the fastest ten. Alonso had drifted back in the times whilst sitting in the garage with a “small issue,” according to Ferrari on Twitter. Just over ten minutes later, the team tweeted, “Issue is solved on Fernando’s car. He is ready to go.”

Soon enough, though, spots of rain began appearing on cameras and visors again. One-third of the way through the session, Hamilton still led the same fastest five, with only Kovalainen and the HRTs without times. Kovalainen had posted two installation laps, but the HRT mechanics were only just receiving the final parts for the cars and Narain Karthikeyan anticipated at most an installation lap for the first day of his return to F1.

The McLaren teammates spent a good portion of the middle of the session trading the top spot on the timesheets between them, until Schumacher stepped in with a fastest lap time of 1:26.590. Meanwhile, Vettel and Webber were seventeenth and eighteenth fastest, respectively. As drivers turned to the softer compound, times dropped again, with Button going fastest to that point with a 1:26.156. The Red Bull drivers slid up the standings, with Webber fourth fastest and Vettel fifth. Hamilton took the fast lap from Button, and they continued to trade fast laps.

When a half hour remained in the session, Button led Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Schumacher, Vettel, Massa, Perez, Barrichello, and Rosberg as the top ten. Vettel soon moved up to fourth, bringing the top four within .160s. The standings remained the same as the session wound down, especially as it began raining earnestly at Albert Park. Many of the drivers returned to the garages, though the rain did not seem to cover the entirety of the track.

There was some drama in the final moments of practice, as HRT managed to get Liuzzi out for a single installation lap, beginning with just over two minutes left. In the end, McLaren was greatly improved from the winter testing, and led the timesheets 1-2.

Final Times for FP2, Australian GP:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Jenson Button McLaren 1:25.854 32
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:25.986 0.132 31
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.001 0.147 28
4. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:26.014 0.160 35
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.283 0.429 33
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:26.590 0.736 31
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.789 0.935 34
8. Sergio Perez Sauber 1:27.101 1.247 39
9. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1:27.280 1.426 34
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:27.448 1.594 23
11. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:27.525 1.671 31
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:27.528 1.674 29
13. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:27.536 1.682 22
14. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:27.697 1.843 30
15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:28.095 2.241 35
16. Paul Di Resta Force India 1:28.376 2.522 33
17. Adrian Sutil Force India 1:28.583 2.729 31
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:29.386 3.532 29
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1:30.829 4.975 22
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1:30.912 5.058 23
21. Jermoe D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:32.106 6.252 36
22. Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:32.135 6.281 30
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT N/A N/A 1
24. Narian Karthikeyan HRT N/A N/A N/A

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