Australian GP 2018

MARCH 23, 2018

Practice 2 Report - Two closer

By Dan Knutson in Melbourne

The first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix belonged to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes with a time of 1:24.026. That was a full half second faster than his teammate Valtteri Bottas, and 0.745 of a second quicker than the third-placed Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Hamilton stayed in front in session two after turning a 1:23.931, but the others were closer. Verstappen, second, was 0.127 of a second slower, and Bottas, third, 0.228 of a second.

The line-up 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 –Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin; McLaren Renault – Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault – Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz; Toro Rosso Honda – Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari – Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.

Nobody rushed out when the green lights signified that FP2 had started. Then Magnussen went to pit exit, did a practice start, and headed trackside. Vettel and Grosjean joined in.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 111 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Centigrade).

Hamilton, on the super soft compound Pirellis, set the early pace with a time of 1:24.569.

Bottas, meanwhile, went sliding through the gravel avoiding a slowing Raikkonen.

"I couldn't see him," Raikkonen radioed.

While the drivers used the ultra soft tires a lot in FP1, they tried the softs and super softs in FP2.

Hamilton trimmed his time down to 1:24.385, and Verstappen was a mere 0.016 of a second slower.

Verstappen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Sainz rounded out the top-six 30 minutes into the session. The track was relatively quiet now with just a couple of drivers running around.

The teams were preparing for some ultra soft tire runs. Vettel's only yielded third place. But Raikkonen grabbed first with a time of 1:24.214.

Then Hamilton turned a lap in 1:23.931. Bottas had a slide on his way to second place with a 1:24.159, pushing Raikkonen to third, Verstappen to fourth and Vettel to fifth.

Grosjean, Ricciardo, Alonso, Sainz and Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10 just past the halfway point of FP2.

Then the session was red flagged. There was loose cable on the pit straight.

There were 37 minutes remaining in the session when it was restarted.

Several drivers had yet to make their ultra soft runs. They did so now, and Magnussen and Vandoorne moved into ninth and tenth.

Other drivers were now doing long runs in the final half hour of FP2.

The track got very busy with most of the drivers circulating. Only Alonso was in the pits with 15 minutes to go, and then he headed out as well.

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Raikkonen, Vettel, Grosjean, Ricciardo, Alonso, Magnussen and Vandoorne filled out the top 10 at the end of FP2.