Malaysian GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
The Iceman Rains
Kimi "The Iceman" Raikkonen reigned in Free Practice 2 for the Malaysian Grand Prix. He set the fastest lap in the session in his Lotus before it started to rain. Sebastian Vettel was just 0.019 slower in his Red Bull.
It was degrees 89.6 Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) with the humidity at 49 percent when the session got underway at 2 p.m. The track temperature was 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius.) It was getting cloudy, and some of the clouds carried the threat of rain.
Max Chilton (Marussia), Charles Pic (Caterham) and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) led a line of cars out of pitlane when the lights turned green. Everybody except Mark Webber (Red Bull) was out on the track, and he soon joined in as well.
Vergne was the first to top the timing screens with a lap time of 1:39.399. Then things got serious as Fernando Alonso ripped off a 1:37.383 in his Ferrari. But Kimi Raikkonen beat that with a 1:37.302 in his Lotus. He then beat his own time with a 1:37.042.
As in the morning session, the hard Pirelli compound was the tire of choice. A few drops of rain started to fall on some sections of the track, but not enough to cause any problems.
Thirteen minutes into the session Vergne switched to the medium compound Pirelli slicks and set the 12th fastest time.
Now more drivers switched to the mediums including Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), who moved up to 13th, and Felipe Massa, who went fastest with a 1:36.661 in his Ferrari.
Nineteen minutes into the session Alonso, on mediums, posted the second quickest lap at 1:37.016. The rain, meanwhile, moved closer to the track. More drivers switched to the medium compounds to try and get some laps on them before the rains came. Charles Pic had a harmless spin in his Caterham.
Twenty-seven minutes into the session Sebastian Vettel, with mediums fitted to his Red Bull, clocked the best time yet at 1:36.588.
With just under an hour to go, it was fairly quiet on the track with just four cars running. Rain clouds might have been looming, but it was still sunny on the pit straight.
Raikkonen, on the medium tires, turned a 1:36.569 with 53 minutes remaining to pop to the top of the timing screens. Less than a minute later Paul di Resta radioed the Force India pit that it was raining on the far end of the circuit. But again it was not heavy enough to cause and problems.
With 40 minutes remaining in the session it was raining at Turns 7 and 8. Everybody remained on slicks, but Di Resta complained that the track was getting slippery. And indeed it did begin to drizzle on other parts of the track.
Nico Hulkenberg spun off in is Sauber coming into the pits and two other cars nearly hit him as he got going again. With 35 minutes remaining the rain increased and all the drivers headed for their garages.
The top 10 consisted of Lotus, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India drivers. Missing from the mix was McLaren ‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√ë‚àö¬® Sergio Perez was 11th and Jenson Button 12th.
With just 30 minutes remaining, and with more rain on the way, nobody was going to improve on their lap times for a while. So the top 10 drivers in the session were as follows.
Kimi Raikkonen 1:36.569
Sebastian Vettel 1:36.588
Felipe Massa 1:36.661
Fernando Alonso 1:36.985
Mark Webber 1:37.026
Romain Grosjean 1:37.206
Nico Rosberg 1:37.448
Paul di Resta 1:37.571
Lewis Hamilton 1:37.574
Adrian Sutil 1:37.788
With 27 minutes to go, Perez headed out with intermediate Pirelli rain tires fitted to his McLaren. Vettel tried out the inters, too, as did others including Vergne and his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg and his Sauber teammate Esteban Gutierrez, meanwhile, were on the extreme wet weather tires.
The track was not that wet but it definitely was slick. Perez and Gutierrez were among those to slide off the road. Guido van der Garde spun off in his Caterham.
With 20 minutes to go, Raikkonen was quickest in the rain with a time of 1:56.092. But Button beat that with a 1:55.282 as the track started to dry. Hulkenberg topped that with a 1:54.812. The times continued to come down, with several drivers clocking laps in the 1:53 range and then the 1:52s and then the 1:51s.
Everybody was on the intermediates, but the track was drying enough for slicks to be used in the last 10 minutes. The lap times came down, but none of the top 10 drivers were able to beat the times they had set before it started to rain.