Friday, 21 March 2008

Malaysian Grand Prix Practice 2

Lewis Hamilton finished the second practice session of the Grand Prix in his favourite place, P1 after snatching the Friday glory from Ferrari in the dying minutes. Ferrari will no doubt sleep soundly tonight after having a clean bill of health throughout that session, and showing some blistering pace along the way. That will certainly have banished a few of the ghosts of last Sunday that may have been lingering. Felipe Massa in particular had a good session coming in second, just ahead of team leader Kimi, followed by (shock, horror) Jenson Button's Honda!The session as a whole was not quite as eventful as the first. The amazing disintegrating Red Bull of Coulthard decided not to make an appearance and Sebastien Bourdais didn't do anything more than an installation lap. There were still a few off track excursions from the likes of Mark Webber, and Fernando Alonso managed to spin on the exit of the final turn under power. Even more worryingly for Alonso though, we heard him on the pit radio complaining of losing second gear completely. He took no further part in the session. Under the new rules gearbox changes = penalties, so it could spell trouble for the Spaniard.

The BMWs and Williams teams seemed to be focusing on longer runs this session, which left the door open for the likes of Button in the Honda and Vettel in the Toro Rosso to grab a few headlines. There were few other surprises on the time sheets really. Nelson Piquet appears to have closed the gap somewhat to his illustrious teammate after his woeful start last weekend, while Timo Glock appears to have gone the other way and fallen back from Trulli's pace.

As in the previous session there was plenty of sliding and slithering around under power. The final corner certainly looks to be the one to watch on race day as that is the corner that the drivers are consistently struggling with in terms of braking stability and traction. Rosberg was again consistently messy throughout the session there, but the honours for best 'drift' of the day go to Lewis Hamilton. He managed to get the back end out at the apex with his front brakes locked, then powerslide all the way through the exit of the corner with the grace of a ballerina. It might have cost him three tenths of a second, but it looked great!

And still no sign of the rain. Latest predictions put the chances of rain at 90% for qualy tomorrow and 70% for Sunday's race. We shall see...

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