F1 Australia: Hamilton leads disrupted FP2 as Palmer crashes

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in second practice at Albert Park - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

In a session disrupted by red and yellow flags and virtual safety cars, Lewis Hamilton continued to lead the way in Australia, with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team racer more than half a second clear of the rest of the field.

But it was another disastrous session for fellow Briton Jolyon Palmer, who after completing just six laps in the first session due to gearbox issues, crashed out of second practice at the Albert Park circuit on just his fifth lap after hitting the barriers hard on the exit of the final turn in his Renault Sport Formula 1 Team RS17.

The crash caused a red flag period while the wreckage was recovered, and it affected those already on their planned long runs that usually are prioritised during second practice.

It was not the only disruption during the session after Felipe Massa stopped on track with a gearbox issue off his own, with the Williams Martini Racing driver causing yellow flags at turn ten, while towards the final moments of the session, a virtual safety car was called when Sauber F1 Team racer Marcus Ericsson spun into the gravel trap at turn six.

Hamilton made the most of the track time available to set the best time of the day with a 1:23.620, quicker than last year’s pole position setting time, with Sebastian Vettel finishing the day in second for the Scuderia Ferrari team, 0.547 seconds back ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, while Kimi Raikkonen was the only other driver within one second of Hamilton’s time in fourth, the Finn having a moment at turn one when he ran across the grass.

Red Bull Racing finished fifth and sixth, Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Max Verstappen for the second session running, although the latter ran only eight laps after an off at turn twelve after running wide and damaging the floor of his RB13.

Carlos Sainz Jr set the seventh fastest time in the leading Scuderia Toro Rosso, 1.464 seconds down on Hamilton’s pace, but more than three-tenths faster than Romain Grosjean of the Haas F1 Team, who for the second time on Friday was inside the top ten in the VF-17, although he had an off-track moment of his own at turn three.

As in the first session, the midfield pack seem to be extremely closely packed, with Grosjean, Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat all within one-tenth of each other, with Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Sergio Perez not that far away either in eleventh.

Fernando Alonso was twelfth fastest in a relatively straightforward-looking session for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team ahead of the second Force India of Esteban Ocon, while Massa ended fourteenth after his early stoppage ahead of Ericsson.

Lance Stroll completed his first official day as a Formula 1 driver with the sixteenth fastest time in the second Williams, 2.905 seconds down on Hamilton’s pace, while the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne completed an encouraging thirty-three laps in finishing seventeenth.

Pascal Wehrlein continued to be outpaced by his Sauber team-mate Ericsson and finished down in eighteenth, ahead only of Kevin Magnussen of the Haas team, who completed just eight laps after mechanical gremlims kept him in the pits for the majority of the session, while Palmer’s crash ensured he brought up the rear of the field in twentieth.

Sebastian Vettel was second fastest on Friday, but more than half a second down on Hamilton – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Albert Park Free Practice 2 Result

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:23.620- 34
25Sebastian VettelGBRScuderia Ferrari1:24.167+0.547s35
377Valtteri BottasFINMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:24.176+0.556s34
47Kimi RaikkonenFINScuderia Ferrari1:24.525+0.905s30
53Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull Racing1:24.650+1.030s27
633Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull Racing1:25.013+1.393s8
755Carlos Sainz JrESPScuderia Toro Rosso1:25.084+1.464s34
88Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas F1 Team1:25.436+1.816s29
927Nico HulkenbergGERRenault Sport Formula 1 Team1:25.478+1.858s36
1026Daniil KvyatRUSScuderia Toro Rosso1:25.493+1.873s39
1111Sergio PerezMEXSahara Force India F1 Team1:25.591+1.971s35
1214Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:26.000+2.380s19
1331Esteban OconFRASahara Force India F1 Team1:26.145+2.525s37
1419Felipe MassaBRZWilliams Martini Racing1:26.331+2.711s6
159Marcus EricssonSWESauber F1 Team1:26.498+2.878s29
1618Lance StrollCANWilliams Martini Racing1:26.525+2.905s27
172Stoffel VandoorneBELMcLaren Honda Formula 1 Team1:26.608+2.988s33
1894Pascal WehrleinGERSauber F1 Team1:26.919+3.299s30
1920Kevin MagnussenDENHaas F1 Team1:27.279+3.659s8
2030Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault Sport Formula 1 Team1:27.549+3.929s4