The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton both finished top of one of the Friday free practice sessions in Malaysia, but both drivers were not without problems, with the reigning World Champion missing a lot of running due to mechanical problems.
Hamilton was forced to miss the majority of the opening session with a problem with his power unit inlet system, and then was delayed getting on track in the afternoon as the team completed their repair, and the Briton was quick to praise his mechanics for their work to get him out on track at all during FP2. Despite not having a set-up ideal for the Sepang track, he was able to comfortably the fastest time of the day, and promises there is more time to come.
“It was an amazing job by the guys to get me back out this afternoon – particularly here in such tough conditions, so I’m very grateful to them,” insisted Hamilton. “It’s not an easy track and the temperatures also make it difficult with the tyres, so it never helps to lose such a big chunk of a session.
“But fortunately I got a few laps in at the end on a longer stint. In terms of set-up I didn’t have time to make any changes – I just went with what we brought over from the last race. It’s probably quite a bit off where I’ll eventually want it so there’s definitely improvements to be made.
“We’ll need to work hard too as Ferrari looked great out there. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”
Team-mate Rosberg was quickest in the opening session but was baffled to find himself struggling with the Medium Pirelli tyre during the afternoon that left him down in third place behind Hamilton and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
“I had a good morning session but I didn’t get it right with the option tyres in the afternoon, so I need to find out why that was,” said Rosberg. “In general it was a difficult day for the team as we had reliability issues on Lewis’ car and which meant he missed a session.
“The conditions are really crazy out there. It’s so hot, the temperatures are really unbelievable. So us drivers and the cars have to adapt to that which is a big challenge.
“We also learned that Ferrari is strong again so it will be an interesting weekend.”