Hamilton leads Vettel in first practice at Sepang

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix first practice

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Lewis Hamilton led the way in the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.

The McLaren driver headed the times with a best lap of 1’38.021.

Team mate Jenson Button was ninth-quickest in the other car but ended his session in the pits as the team worked to repair an oil leak on his car.

Sebastian Vettel was second-quickest for Red Bull, half a second off the McLaren driver’s pace.

The two Mercedes were next, Nico Rosberg ahead of Michael Schumacher.

Romain Grosjean was fifth-fastest despite hitting trouble earlier in the session. The Lotus driver cruised slowly into the pits, apparently stuck in seventh gear.

Narain Karthikeyan suffered more terminal transmission problems with his car, which came to a stop after just eight laps. He and team mate Pedro de la Rosa propped up the bottom of the times.

Marussia’s Charles Pic spent most of the session in the garage with a technical problem, only emerging for his first run in the final 20 minutes,

With track temperatures hitting 40C during the session, drivers experienced high degradation on the hard tyres. The Caterhams of Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen switched to the medium compound before the end of the session.

Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas drove Bruno Senna’s car in the first session and was 11th fastest.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.021 19
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’38.535 0.514 21
3 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’38.813 0.792 21
4 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’38.826 0.805 19
5 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’38.919 0.898 17
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’39.092 1.071 20
7 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’39.128 1.107 22
8 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’39.298 1.277 23
9 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’39.323 1.302 15
10 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’39.440 1.419 19
11 19 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’39.724 1.703 23
12 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’39.783 1.762 23
13 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’39.896 1.875 16
14 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.910 1.889 21
15 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.980 1.959 23
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.099 2.078 23
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’40.247 2.226 19
18 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’40.469 2.448 23
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’40.857 2.836 25
20 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.085 3.064 23
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’43.170 5.149 18
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’44.580 6.559 14
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’45.360 7.339 8
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’45.528 7.507 18

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

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    Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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    Keith Collantine
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    21 comments on “Hamilton leads Vettel in first practice at Sepang”

    1. Are we going to see Caterham trapped in a sort of Mercedes in 2011 Neverland not quite with the midfield but far ahead of the bottom two?

      1. I think they were there last year. I expect them to stay 10th in the pecking order, obviously, but I think they should be able to fight with some teams and score a point here and there. Their race pace was good in Melbourne when there weren’t any issues, though that was rare.

      2. @nefor it does look like they’re in for a season much like last year, so far at least.

        But let’s wait and see – KERS is a tricky thing to get on top of and they may still be losing time there. They had a lot of reliability problems in Melbourne as well.

        1. I think this is more due to a case of “we take three steps, they take three steps.” The midfield has bunched everything up to the leaders so closely that it’s just all the harder to catch them. Look at the times in the first practice: Heikki’s only 2.8 seconds off Hamilton’s fastest lap. That’s *very* little time difference. I think if they can improve their reliability there’s a very good chance of them coming across a point this year.

    2. Not looking too bad for HRT. Power steering is apparently much better and they have DRS working. I think they’ll manage 107%.

      1. @enigma Yeah they look pretty close. With the front runners most likely not using medium tyres in Q1 I think they’ll make it.

        1. It could be very important if they do – if the race is crazily wet they could get a 12th or 13th that would be so crucial in the championship.

          1. I hope it doesn’t happen though. Marussia has had a better car than HRT ever since they entered in 2010, so I think it would be hugely unfair to Marussia if they are last on the standings for the third year in a row because of a crazy race :P

            1. Completely agreed.

            2. Why is it unfair? To finish first, you have to finish first, or in Marussia’s case, you have to finish 13th or 14th. In the races of attrition of the past two years, HRT have been there to finish in positions which got them ahead of Marussia, whilst Marussia haven’t been there to take advantage of the crazy races. Renault beat in McLaren in 2005 with a slower car, or are you going to tell me they didn’t deserve the championships last year?

            3. lets not cry for the small teams and how unfair the sport is.

              yes F1 can be cruel sometimes, but its fair. you cant say that some teams deserve better results than others. teams have to earn their position through results on the track. i dont see why Marussia “deserves” to be above HRT because they were unlucky in the last two years.

      2. From what I read on the Autosport commentary the HRT has absolutely zero rear grip. If they can spend the next two sessions playing with the setup and improve that area of the car they should qualify easily.

      3. @enigma They’re .478s off by my calculations. Like you say, they should be able to make it within the 107%. I hope they have trouble free practice sessions for the rest of the weekend!

    3. It is raining now :(

      1. thanks for the update!

    4. Testing times might not mean anything, but it made me happy to see Valtteri Bottas beat Pastor Maldonado in his first time in this year’s Williams.

      1. Free practice times, I should say.

    5. I think RBR will not be hiding any cards this time…

      1. @jcost I don’t think they were in Melbourne. Admittedly their race was better than their qualifying result.

    6. How many sets of tyres do they give back after practice? With so much wear, is their running severely limited if they don’t want to dip into their real tyres?

    7. Romain Grosjean was fourth-fastest despite hitting trouble earlier in the session.

      @keithcollantine Should read fifth fastest.

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