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Australian GP 2016

MARCH 18, 2016

Practice 2 Report - The Insiders

Lewis Hamilton, Australian GP 2016
© Active Pictures

 Rain, wind and varying track conditions kept most drivers inside the garages for much of the Free Practice 2 session for the Australian Grand Prix. The fastest of the outsiders was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the session was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto and Roberto Merhi. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Rain and wind were the story of the break between FP1 and FP2, so once again the track was wet at the start of the session. There was an 80 percent chance of rain during FP2, and it was raining with varying intensity at various parts of the track and sunny in places as well. Nobody was anxious to venture out immediately, so it was 17 minutes into the session that Ricciardo became the first driver to go out.

He had Pirelli's intermediate rain tires on his Red Bull. That encouraged a few more to sample the wet track including Kvyat, Rosberg, Sainz and Button.

With just over an hour to go, Rosberg spun and skimmed the wall at Turn 7. Dragging the front wing, he limped back to the pits until the team radioed him to pull over and stop at Turn 13.

The sun was out now. The track was still wet, although traces of a dry racing line were beginning to appear in some corners, with 50 minutes remaining. Alonso was quickest with a time of 1:41.694. Eight drivers had set times. Alonso improved to a 1:39.895, which was 1.3 seconds quicker than Perez who was second ahead of Hulkenberg, Sainz and Kvyat.

As the track continued to dry the drivers, still on the intermediate tires, went faster, and Raikkonen grabbed the lead with a 1:39.486. Ricciardo was second after setting a 1:39.535. Yet with 40 minutes remaining in the session 10 drivers including Hamilton, Massa and Bottas had still not completed a single lap.

At the one hour mark, the top 10 were: Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Button, Vettel, Perez, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez and Wehrlein.

The track was now in that twilight zone - too dry for intermediate rain tires but too wet for slicks. So there was not much change in the lap times. But that scenario didn't fit all cases as with 22 minutes remaining, Hamilton clocked a 1:38.841 on the inters, and Hulkenberg moved into second.

With 15 minutes remaining, officials put up a "Low grip conditions" warning on the scoring monitor screens, and the track was indeed slippery as the rain returned in places. The lap times were not going to improve now.

The top 10 at the end of FP2 were: Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Sainz, Alonso, Button, Vettel, Perez and Kvyat.