Mercedes put themselves back in control of proceedings during second free practice for Sunday’s Chinese F1 Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton managing fastest time to beat FP1 pacesetter Fernando Alonso into 2nd.
The Mercedes man complained session-long about a perceived imbalance or issue somewhere within the F1W05, though it seemed his fears were groundless as the car performed well enough to reassert Mercedes control at the front. Team-mate Nico Rosberg was 3rd, ahead of Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel; the Aussie beating his World Champion team-mate to the tune of nearly 0.3 seconds.
All drivers struggled with degradation during the long run race simulations on high fuel toward the end of the session, with the graining phase typically lasting four or five laps and shaving up to six seconds from the average high fuel lap time – around the 1:43:0 mark. In this setup, it was again Mercedes who lead the way from Red Bull.
Pastor Maldonado caused mild mirth for spectators and a few headaches for the Lotus pit crew when he misjudged his pitlane entry speed re-entering the pits after his soft tyre run and buried his E22 in the pitwall similar to Sergio Perez last year for McLaren. ‘I crashed’ was his simple radio explanation.
‘Oh…okay.’ was the rather unimpressed response.
FP3 is at 04:00GMT on Saturday morning.
CLASSIFICATION – FP2 – Chinese GP – 18th Apr 2014