Mercedes on top again in Malaysia with Rosberg
Nico Rosberg took over from team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the practice timesheets in Malaysia, the German driver ending day one at Sepang with a lap of 1:39.909.
“It was crazy conditions out there,” Rosberg after the afternoon session. “In the very, very warm temperatures, it's a huge challenge to get everything right. The cars are on the edge and the tyre degradation was higher than expected today – we are sliding a bit more this year, perhaps because of the reduced downforce levels.”
Rosberg was just three hundredths of a second clear of second-placed Kimi Raikkonen, however, the Finn continuing the good work he’d put in during the morning session when he backed up Hamilton at the top of the timesheet. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, improved from seventh in session one to third in the afternoon, the Red Bull Racing driver ending his day just six hundredths of a second behind Rosberg.
Rosberg’s best time was set about half an hour into the session, his lap being good enough to dislodge Wiliams’ Felipe Massa's Williams, who had been the first to top the timesheet on the medium tyres. Lewish Hamilton, in the second Mercedes then went second fastest but then Raikkonen arrived with a lap of 1:39.944 to split the Silver Arrows.
It was then Vettel’s turn to move up the leaderboard. The Red Bull Racing driver set his fastest lap on his second lap on the medium tyre – suggesting that the RB10 may be kinder on its tyres on Sepang’s abrasive surface than some other cars.
With Hamilton fourth, Fernando Alonso ended up fifth fastest, half a tenth slower than Hamilton and just eight thousandths of a second quicker than Massa, who slid to sixth. Daniel Ricciardo finished his day’s work in seventh spot, three tenths of a second down on team-mate Vettel.
It was another troubled session for Lotus, however. After a turbo failure in the opening session Pastor Maldonad’s car required an engine change and that restricted the Venezuelan to the garage for the afternoon. Team-mate Romain Grosjean did make it out on track but his running was ended by a gearbox problem after 14 laps.
Caterham too had a difficult time, with Kamui Kobayashi unable to run because of an energy store problem. Tea-mate Marcus Ericsson was able to complete a full programme, however.
2014 Malaysian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Result
1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.909 30
2 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:39.944 0.035 30
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.970 0.061 30
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:40.051 0.142 32
5 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:40.103 0.194 29
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:40.112 0.203 34
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:40.276 0.367 29
8 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.628 0.719 28
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:40.638 0.729 35
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:40.691 0.782 34
11 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:40.777 0.868 33
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:41.014 1.105 20
13 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.257 1.348 28
14 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:41.325 1.416 32
15 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.407 1.498 34
16 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:41.671 1.762 25
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:42.531 2.622 14
18 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:43.638 3.729 20