After being unable to set a lap time in the opening free practice session on Friday, Lewis Hamilton recovered to finish the second free practice session with the fastest time as the temperatures soared in Malaysia.
Under blue skies at Sepang, the session was held in hot and humid conditions, with the air temperature 33 degrees Celsius and the track temperature hitting a high of 59 degrees Celsius, much warmer than the opening session.
Despite his pacesetting run, Hamilton did not have everything his own way again during the session, which was delayed initially as his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team fixed the issues from FP1, and frustratingly for the Briton, he was then called back into the pits as a precaution when the telemetry readings from the car failed. Despite these setbacks, the Briton returned to the track and immediately set a lap time faster than anyone had gone so far this weekend.
Hamilton’s lap time of 1m39.790s was enough to beat the Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen by 0.373s, with the Finn sitting at the top of the timing screens for much of the session up to then. Nico Rosberg could not match his morning pace and was only third quickest in the second Mercedes.
Daniil Kvyat pulled out an impressive run in the final third of the session to place his Infiniti Red Bull Racing machine into fourth position, but his track time was ended early with a possible drive issue as he coasted back into the pit lane. His lap time was enough to beat both Williams Martini Racing drivers however, with Valtteri Bottas just over a tenth of a second ahead of Felipe Massa.
The second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was down in seventh, almost half a second slower than his team-mate, and was caught out early in the session by a spin at turn eleven, with the German just about able to stop before reaching the gravel trap.
The leading Scuderia Toro Rosso driver was teenager Max Verstappen in eighth, while his team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr ended the session fourteenth, meaning he completed a F1 session outside the top ten for the first time this season.
Marcus Ericsson was the leading Sauber F1 Team driver in ninth, with the Swede posting a time over seven tenths of a second faster than team-mate Felipe Nasr, who was running his first session of the weekend after watching test driver Raffaele Marciello take to the track in FP1. Ericsson was one of a number of drivers to run off-track during the session.
Daniel Ricciardo completed the top ten in the second Red Bull Racing machine, but was only able to complete eight laps as his RB11 was being attended to in the garage for most of the session with a mechanical issue.
The Lotus F1 Team had a compromised session; Pastor Maldonado salvaged eleventh late in the session after the sidepod of his E23 Hybrid came loose at high speed early on in the session, but unfortunately for Romain Grosjean, he had even bigger issues, with his session coming to an end early with only seven laps completed with an apparent power unit issue.
Another driver to make a mistake and run off-track was the Sahara Force India of Sergio Perez, with the Mexican finishing thirteenth quickest, with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg having a quiet session down in fifteenth. Both were still able to beat both McLaren-Honda’s who, despite having an apparent trouble-free session, were still off the pace, with Fernando Alonso sixteenth and Jenson Button seventeenth.
After making their first appearance on track in 2015 in the first session, the Manor F1 Team were back on track early in FP2, and Will Stevens made gradual progress throughout the session to set a lap time of 1m45.704s, which although almost six seconds adrift of Hamilton’s pacesetting lap, was good for a team that had not run a lap all season up until this morning.
Unfortunately for team-mate Roberto Merhi, his session was over after just six laps when he spun into the gravel trap at turn eleven, necessitating the session to be stopped while a tractor retrieved his stricken car.
With the temperatures being so high, tyre degradation was the hot talking point on Friday, with many drivers up and down the paddock complaining over the radio about the low levels of grip they were feeling. With the degradation being so high, most teams are now expected to run either two or three stop strategies during the race on Sunday.
2015 Australian Grand Prix Free Practice 2 Times
|4||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m40.346s|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m41.220s|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m41.799s|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m42.242s|
|14||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m42.291s|
|15||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m42.330s|