March 14, 2014 — Mercedes photo — MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA — Mercedes lived up to their billing as pre-race favourites by taking a commanding one-two in second practice in Australia on Friday afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton, who missed almost all of FP1 after his car developed a technical issue, showed team mate Nico Rosberg the fast way around Melbourne. Hamilton and Mercedes made up for their disappointment in FP1 to set the fastest lap of 1m 29.625s in FP2 in Albert Park this afternoon, with Rosberg just 0.157s off of his teammate’s time.
Sauber’s Adrian Sutil, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, Williams’ Felipe Massa, team mate Valtteri Bottas, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Rosberg all had turns being fastest as teams ran the medium Pirelli tyre, before Daniel Ricciardo redefined the ante for Red Bull on softs. He in turn was deposed by Rosberg before Hamilton pushed ahead.
Fernando Alonso, fastest in FP1, was third for Ferrari with 1m 30.132s, 0.507s off Hamilton, while Sebastian Vettel was an encouraging fourth for Red Bull on 1m 30.381s, 0.756s down on the leading Mercedes.
There was further encouragement, too, for McLaren as Jenson Button was fifth on 1m 30.510s ahead of Ricciardo’s 1m 30. 538s, Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 30.898s in the second Ferrari and Bottas on 1m 30.920s.
Rookie Kevin Magnussen was ninth in the other McLaren with 1m 31.031s, as Hulkenberg completed the top 10 with 1m 31.054s ahead of Vergne on 1m 31.060s and Massa on 1m 31.119s. Sergio Perez was 13th in the second Force India on 1m 31.283s, with Sutil next up on 1m 32.355s from Sauber team mate Esteban Gutierrez on 1m 32.468s and Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 32.495s.
Marussia got both their cars going, Jules Bianchi setting an encouraging 1m 33.486s to head Romain Grosjean’s Lotus on 1m 33.646s and team mate Max Chilton on 1m 34.757s.
Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus stayed in the garage this time as power unit parts were changed, as did both Caterhams. Marcus Ericsson still had battery problems, while Kamui Kobayashi’s car required a change of its Renault powertrain after its problems this morning. None of the three set a time.
The session provided teams with the chance to sample both Pirelli compounds and to do some race running, but was not without incident. Vergne went off at Turn 3; Vettel in Turn 1; Grosjean in Turn 7 before later going off in Turn 6 and walloping the wall hard enough to derange the left rear suspension; Kvyat at Turn 1; and Hulkenberg spun off in Turn 10 right at the end after putting his left-hand rear wheel on the grass. There was also a bit of an on-track disagreement between Vettel and Gutierrez which resulted in the Mexican running wide going through Turn 2.
What was impressive was that, apart from the troubles suffered by Caterham and Lotus, only Raikkonen had a real problem when his F14 T stopped momentarily at the end of the pit lane before being resuscitated. Otherwise the new breed of F1 cars was much more reliable than had been expected, and the general feeling is that most teams now have a good basis on which to work for qualifying.