A mere five days since he climbed on to the top step of the podium at the season opener in Melbourne, Kimi Raikkonen topped the timing screens at the end of the first day of free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as he and Lotus have clearly brought their winning momentum along to Sepang.
The second free practice session of the day got underway with dark clouds threatening, and eventually dropping their load just before the hour mark and lasted for about 20 minutes. The track remained wet until about 15 minutes to go, when a dry line appeared and times began to drop to the level witnessed at the start of the session.
But Raikkonen’s best time of 1:35.569 was set shortly after the half hour mark, before the rain descended, displacing Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel from top spot on the timing screens by 0.019 seconds. And that’s how it remained at the summit until the chequered flag dropped to bring the day’s action to an end.
Raikkonen summed up his day, “We tried changing a few things on the car and made progress with where we wanted to be at the end of the sessions. We had some running in the wet which you often get around here and the car feels fine. We ran pretty heavy today so I don’t know how we’ll be when everyone is light for qualifying, but I’m happy with where we are.”
Vettel told BBC afterwards, “We didn’t get as much done as we wanted to but that’s the same for everyone. One part of the track was quite soaked and one part pretty dry.”
“This afternoon we couldn’t do that much [race preparation] because of the weather. It looked pretty OK but quite a mess if you look at how long the tyres last. There is some footage to look at too; it doesn’t look very nice, I have to say.”
“I hope we have enough tyres to survive the race. Tyre wear was pretty severe for everyone.”
Also less than a tenth off the fastest time was Felipe Massa, third fastest in the Ferrari, which was nevertheless 0.324 up on teammate Fernando Alonso who was fourth. Massa did 33 laps in the process which was more than anyone else in the session.
Mark Webber, who was fastest in FP1 earlier in the morning, ended his day in fifth.
Struggling to match his Lotus teammate on the opening day in Malaysia was Romain Grosjean who was sixth, although over half a second down on Raikkonen’s top time. In the morning the Frenchman was a second shy of the Iceman’s best.
Notably the top six on the FP2 timing sheets were Ferrari and Renault powered drivers.
Nico Rosberg was the fastest of the half dozen Mercedes powered drivers with Force India’s Paul di Resta eighth, Lewis Hamilton ninth in the Mercedes and Adrian Sutil rounding out the top ten in the Force India.
Out of the top ten and over 1.2 seconds down on the FP2 topping time was the best of the McLaren boys with Sergio Perez 11th, ahead of Jenson Button in 12th.
Sauber duo Nico Hulkenberg and rookie Esteban Gutierrez were 13th and 14th respectively. The young Mexican having a drama packed day with a fire extinguisher accidentally activating in his car, and then a broken exhaust compromising his day.
Williams were way out the ball park with Pastor Maldonado 16th and Valtteri Bottas down in 19th, was slower than Jules Bianchi – the Marussia driver again the pick of the battle at the back.
Free Practice 2 Results, Sepang – Friday, 22 March 2013
|2||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.588||0.019||27|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.026||0.457||29|
|8||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.571||1.002||30|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.788||1.219||10|
|21||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:40.768||4.199||32|