After a triumphant start to the new F1 season, could there be a chink in the armour of the all-conquering Mercedes team?
Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the second practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix that takes place on Sunday but afterwards the World Champion said his preparations for the race have been “heavily compromised.” By that Hamilton means his Mercedes has reliability problems. The first session saw his Mercedes suffer engine problems and then a lack of telemetry (which helps assess potential damage) ended the session altogether. That problem re-emerged in the second session meaning Hamilton could only complete five laps.
“Whenever you lose a session – and pretty much half of the second – it definitely doesn’t help,” he said. “But the team did a great job to rebuild the car and that was crucial.
Hamilton will head into final practice without being able to make any changes and said the balance of the car is “quite a bit off from where I need it.” The fact that Hamilton was 0.428 seconds faster than Nico Rosberg did put a smile on his face though, saying that was “good for sure.” It could have been closer though if Rosberg had been able to get a clear run on the fastest tyres.
So far practice has continued to show the promise of the 2015 Ferrari with Kimi Raikkonen second behind Hamilton in the second practice session. He was still 0.373 seconds behind the defending world champion and it looks as if Mercedes can sort out their problems then they should dominate again this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel would have done better in second practice but for the session being stopped after Roberto Merhi was beached in a gravel trap. Vettel had just started his first lap on his medium tyres. Second time around the former world champion spun his Ferrari at the same place Merhi had his problems.
The problems at McLaren seem no nearer being sorted out with the returning Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button 16th and 17th nearly three seconds behind Hamilton.