Hamilton remains on top in second free practice in Australia
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News March 23, 2018 Updated: 10:13 AM PT
MELBOURNE, Australia — After taking the first free practice session of the week, Lewis Hamilton continued his dominance taking the second free practice session, ahead of what could be a wet qualifying day for the the opening race of the, 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
"Obviously the car is quicker here than it was last year, so it feels better everywhere. Turns 11 and 12 are crazy, we’re not even braking into that corner, it’s insane. It’s going to rain tomorrow and on Sunday as far as I’m aware. I’ve not driven in the rain yet on these tyres, so that’ll be interesting,” said Hamilton.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came within striking distance of the four-time world champion by 0.127s as the Dutchmen finished second.
“For me this has been a positive start to the weekend so I am really happy about that. The car has behaved well on this track which is always pleasing after only running in Barcelona to date. Of course we have only done two practice sessions so it is still hard to see who is strongest and how we will finish come race day,” said Verstappen.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas finished third, edging out fellow Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen by 0.055s. Raikkonen’s teammate Sebastian Vettel, finished 0.520s from Hamilton as the two world champions are favored to battle it out this weekend, down under.
Haas continued to show progress as Romain Grosjean finished sixth swapping places with Daniel Ricciardo in seventh. Ricciardo could have made a considerable move up during his flying lap, but was forced to abort due to a Red flag caused by a lost timing cable on the Start/Finish straight. Despite the holdup, Ricciardo wasn’t convinced the lap would have been good enough to get him to the top of the timesheet.
“My low fuel run got cut short by the red flag, but to be honest, after doing about nine turns on that lap I wasn’t fully happy with the balance. I think I would have been a bit quicker than on the soft tyre and moved up from where we are but I still don’t think it would have been a P1 lap time,” said Ricciardo.
The woes would later continue for Ricciardo after he was handed a three spot grid penalty ahead of Sunday’s race. Fernando Alonso finished eighth for McLaren followed by Grosjean’s teammate Kevin Magnussen who, split the two McLarens taking ninth and leaving Stoffel Vandoorne in tenth.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz finished 0.105 in 11th ahead of 12th place Force India driver, Sergio Perez. Nico Hulkenberg ended his second free practice 0.073s behind teammate Sainz, in 13th.
Lance Stroll finished 14th for Williams though the team spent most of the afternoon working on balance, as they prepare for what could be a wet qualifying session tomorrow.
Esteban Ocon finished 15th while the team continued working on new aero parts on the car, and was disappointed he was unable to get a clean run. After technical issues kept Brendon Hartley in the garage for most of FP1, he made up for it by finishing 16th alongside teammate, Pierre Gasly in 17th.
Williams, Sergey Sirotkin, finished 18th with Saubers Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc finishing 0.001 from each other in 19th and 20th.