Malaysian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Hamilton fastest in opening session
Fresh from victory in the last race, McLaren set the pace in the first practice session in preparation for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
On a bright but typically humid morning at Sepang, Lewis Hamilton took the lead from Jenson Button halfway through the session and he stayed on top to the flag, with Button 3rd. As in Australia, McLaren are expected to concentrate on qualifying pace during the practice sessions.
Nico Rosberg was second fastest after a late flyer in the Mercedes while another man likely to focus on qualifying pace is Michael Schumacher, 4th on the timesheets. The multiple world champion says he has been too conservative so far this season, contributing to the trials and tribulations of his first two races. He didn't go out until late in the session but he could be one to watch on Saturday.
As in Australia, Renault made an impressive start, with last weekend's early pacesetter Robert Kubica 5th. Vitaly Petrov suffered a hiccup when he suffered a fuel leak early on and completed only 9 laps.
Rounding out the top eight were Mark Webber's Red Bull, Adrian Sutil's Force India and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel was 9th fastest and set the fastest middle sector of all on an in lap at the end of the session. Following his costly gremlins in the first two races, the German came on the radio to complain about a problem with pickup on his Red Bull.
There were two reserve drivers on the circuit. Paul di Resta again had a run in the Force India, this time taking Vitantonio Liuzzi's place. Meanwhile Lotus, which has Malaysian owners, ran with local driver Fairuz Fauzy in the team's home nation. Fauzy spun off at turn 12 half an hour in but recovered, keeping the car going.
Sauber has reinforced its front wing pillars in the wake of the repeated failures suffered by Kamui Kobayashi in Australia. Pedro de la Rosa's sister car suffered one big off into the gravel at turn 11, as did Felipe Massa's Ferrari, one of two offs in the space of two laps for the Brazilian.
Jaime Alguersuari caused his mechanics to jog the length of the pit lane in the sweltering heat after stopping on his way in with an electrical problem.
The weather is sure to play a part in the weekend's proceedings as rain has been arriving all week around 1700 local time. Last year the race had to be stopped early but the organisers will be hoping that the move to a 1600 start time saves Sunday's action.