Formula 1

Advantage Hamilton following disastrous FP1 in Melbourne

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Lewis Hamilton has recovered from a woeful FP1 to claim the top spot in the second free practice session as the 2014 FIA Formula One season well and truly got under way in Melbourne.

The Mercedes driver waited until the second half of the session to set his time of 1:29.625 on the soft Pirelli tyres, putting himself ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg by almost 0.16 seconds.

In third place and sticking exclusively to the medium compound rubber was F1’s only Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who was half a second back on Rosberg after being unable to match the Mercedes pace over an entire lap. He was however, the fastest driver in sector one.

Indeed a team that were having a good session following weeks of hardship in the pre-season tests were four time F1 champions Red Bull, who finished fourth and sixth with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo respectively. Both finished well within a second of Hamilton’s time showing that what ever dramas they were suffering with the Renault Power Unit have – for now – been banished.

The same can’t be said for fellow Renault powered teams Lotus and Caterham. The Lotus team scored an 18th place with Romain Grosjean but team mate Pastor Maldonado could not even set a time thanks to a potential ERS issue at the beginning of the session.

Perennial back of the gridders Caterham experienced a rough day with their chargers. Kamui Kobayashi couldn’t completed even one lap thanks to the fuel system issued which hobbled him in FP1 not being resolved in time for this session. That was combined with team mate Marcus Ericsson struggling round one installation lap before returning to the garage with a hydraulics problem.

However, it was a positive day for McLaren who seemed to be on the up again following a final Bahrain test where they appeared to be slipping down the order. A fifth place for Jenson Button, between the Red Bulls, and a ninth for rookie Kevin Magnussen put them right in the mix for a solid result come F1 race day on Sunday.

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