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.CarDriverCarBest lapGapLaps
14Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’38.02119
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’38.5350.51421
38Nico RosbergMercedes1’38.8130.79221
47Michael SchumacherMercedes1’38.8260.80519
510Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’38.9190.89817
62Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’39.0921.07120
79Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’39.1281.10722
811Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’39.2981.27723
93Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’39.3231.30215
1012Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’39.4401.41919
1119Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1’39.7241.70323
1218Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’39.7831.76223
136Felipe MassaFerrari1’39.8961.87516
1414Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’39.9101.88921
155Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’39.9801.95923
1617Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’40.0992.07823
1720Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’40.2472.22619
1816Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’40.4692.44823
1921Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’40.8572.83625
2015Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’41.0853.06423
2124Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’43.1705.14918
2225Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’44.5806.55914
2323Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’45.3607.3398
2422Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’45.5287.50718

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

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    Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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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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