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Australian GP 2019

MARCH 15, 2019

Practice 2 Report - On a roll

Lewis Hamilton, Australian GP 2019
© RV Press

By Dan Knutson in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton is on a roll. After clocking the fastest lap in Free Practice 1 for the Australian Grand Prix, he went even quicker in FP2 to top that session as well.

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari – Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc; Red Bull TAG Heuer –Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly; Renault – Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg; Haas Ferrari – Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; McLaren Renault – Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris; Racing Point Mercedes – Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll; Alfa Romeo Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi; Toro Rosso Honda – Daniil Kvyat and Alexander Albon; Williams Mercedes – George Russell and Robert Kubica.

Hamilton best lap in FP1 was a 1:23.599 set using the soft compound Pirelli tires.

Grosjean was the first out in FP2, stopping for a practice start at pit exit on the way. He clocked the first time of the session – a 1:25.634. His teammate Magnussen topped that with his 1:24.409.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (44 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 111 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Centigrade).

It soon got very busy on the track with all the drivers lapping save Grosjean and Ricciardo whose cars were undergoing repairs. The other drivers were using the medium and hard compound tires.

Twenty minutes into FP2 Hamilton put the hammer down to set a 1:23.582 on the mediums. Bottas used the same compound to turn a 1:23.879. And now Riccardo was up and running as well but just for an install lap.

Hamilton then improved to 1:23.208. Bottas improved as well but was 0.233 of a second slower than Hamilton. Then the latter lowered his time to a 1:23.148.

As the half-hour mark approached, Verstappen was third ahead of Magnussen, Kvyat and Gasly. The painfully slow Williams cars brought up the rear.

Next, Grosjean became the first driver to try the soft compound tires in the session. Others followed suit including Gasly who moved up to third. Vettel could only manage fourth fastest on his soft run.

Bottas had another go on the softs and took the lead with a 1:22.648, which was an even 0.500 faster than Hamilton.

But Hamilton was not having any of that and lowered his best to a 1:22.600.

Just past the midway point of the session the order was Hamilton, Bottas, Gasly, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo, Verstappen, Leclerc and Grosjean.

All but Verstappen had set their best times on the soft Pirellis. And now with about 40 minutes to go, many of the drivers started doing their long runs with worn tires and heavy fuel loads.

Albon had crashed in FP1 and now had a spin in FP2.

With less than 20 minutes to go, Verstappen finally tried the soft compound tires. He vaulted up to third but was 0.8 of a second slower than Hamilton.

Leclerc had a spin at Turn 5 in the final two minutes but didn’t hit anything.

And so the final order of the top ten at the end of the session was the on a roll Hamilton followed by Bottas, Verstappen, Gasly, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo, Leclerc and Grosjean.