By Alan Davies, Formula 1 correspondent
Friday, March 23, 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in both of today’s (Friday’s) free practice sessions for the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix.
"I’ve not won at Sepang before, but I’ve had some good races here – and I’d like to put the record straight with a victory this weekend."
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire went quickest in P1 around the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur.
Hamilton’s best time was a 1m 38.012s to place him ahead of Red Bull rival Sebastian Vettel.
And the Herts-born 2008 F1 world champion repeated the trick in second practice as McLaren continued their early season dominance, after Hamilton’s team-mate Jenson Button won the opening Australian GP in Melbourne last weekend.
Hamilton’s fastest time on his first run in P2 was a 1m 38.921s.
He said over the team radio: “The track’s a bit different from this morning.”
Lewis improved on his best time on the option tyre with a 1m 38.513s.
He eventually recorded the quickest lap in P2 of 1m 38.172s, with Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes GP second fastest.
“It’s been a good day for me,” said Hamilton after practice in Malaysia.
“We’ve made a few changes to the balance of the car since the last race and I’m much happier – but we’ll still be making changes to improve our long-run pace, which can always be better.”
Button went third for McLaren in P2 with a lap of 1m 38.535s after an oil leak cut short his first session, with Nico Rosberg fourth in the second Mercedes.
Red Bull’s double world champion Vettel was down in 10th place in second practice, with team-mate Mark Webber only seventh-fastest behind Fernando Alonso for Ferrari.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was encouraged by this morning’s running ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
“I think Mercedes AMG look very strong and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Red Bull Racing just yet – as usual, we expect them to be competitive.
“However, we weren’t too displeased with today’s running – relative performance doesn’t look too different from what we saw in Melbourne.
“We feel reasonably competitive – our car seems to respond well to changes and it’s predictable, too.
“Both Jenson and Lewis found the car to be generally consistent despite the gusty conditions, but Sepang is a much more challenging circuit than Albert Park so we’ll carry on working to improve the balance for qualifying tomorrow.”
Qualifying for the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix starts at 8am on Saturday.