Australian GP 2017

MARCH 24, 2017

Practice 2 Report - Pole faster

Lewis Hamilton, Australian GP 2017
© RV Press


By Dan Knutson in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton was quickest in FP1 after setting a time of 1:24.220 in his Mercedes. In FP2 in he got down to a 1:23.620 faster than his pole time of 1:23.837 here a year ago.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Centigrade.)

The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.

Haas drivers Grosjean and Magnussen were the first out in the second free practice session. Grosjean turned a time of 1:26.912 and his new teammate was 0.395 of a second slower. Both were on the super soft Pirelli slicks.

Massa, on the same compound, then got down to a 1:26.367.

But now, 12 minutes into the session, Hamilton was out there, and he posted 1:25.283 on the soft compound. Bottas beat that with a 1:25.149 on the super softs. Raikkonen used the same compound to get a 1:25.087 and then a 1:25.033.

Then, 18 minutes in, Vettel got on top with a 1:24.926.

Palmer had an accident in the final corner, which brought out the red flags 23 minutes into FP2. The back of the Renault got away from him, and the car backed into the tire barriers, spun around, and hit the barriers front on.

It took nine minutes to clear the track and the session was then restarted. The top 10 at this time were: Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Massa, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Perez and Ericsson.

Vettel now had a set of the ultra soft Pirellis on his Ferrari. Massa, meanwhile, could not get his Williams into gear and he parked it at Turn 9. Once his car was pushed away the drivers could get back to fast laps. Verstappen used the super softs to move into second with a 1:25.013.

Bottas ran on the ultras to get a 1:24.176, but Vettel beat that with a 1:24.167 and Hamilton with a 1:23.620.

Midway through the session the order was now: Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Sainz, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Kvyat and Perez.

Ricciardo was down in 18th when he started his run on the ultra softs. His time of 1:24.650 hauled him up to fifth.

Verstappen's attempt to go faster resulted in him bouncing off the track at Turn 12. He kept control and headed for the pits.

One hour into the session the top 10 was: Hamilton, Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz, Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Kvyat.

Drama with five minutes to go: Ericsson spun and ended up in the gravel trap at Turn 6, and that brought out the Virtual Safety Car.

The teams were now well in to their long runs on used tires, so the top 10 would remain unchanged with Hamilton's best lap faster than his pole time from 2016.