Melbourne, FP2: Hamilton edges Verstappen to stay on top

Bottas 3rd, Ferrari 4th and 5th


By Olivier Ferret

23 March 2018 - 07:35
Melbourne, FP2: Hamilton edges (...)

Lewis Hamilton remained in control of the Albert Park timesheets at the end of the second free practice session in Melbourne. However, the defending champion was closely shadowed by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, with the Dutch driver finishing just over a tenth of second behind his Mercedes rival.

After early sparring on the soft and supersoft tyres, the session’s qualifying simulations saw Hamilton charge to the front of the pack with a time of 1:23.931s set after had bolted on a set of Pirelli’s purple-banded ultrasoft tyres. Valtteri Bottas made it a Mercedes one-two, two tenths down on Hamilton, but Verstappen soon split the Silver Arrows duo with a lap of 1:24.058 to end the session just 0.127s behind the champion.

Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen finished to fourth, 0.283s off the pace with team-mate Sebastian Vettel a further 0.237s behind in fifth place.

Haas again looked in good shape, with Romain Grosjean sixth in the second session and seven tenths of a second off Hamilton’s pace.

Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull might have challenged for the top spots on the timesheet but the home favourite’s qualifying run was interrupted by a brief red flag caused by loose cabling on the start-finish straight.

Fernando Alonso reprised his FP1 achievement of eighth place, with the Spaniard finishing 1.269s adrift of Hamilton and just under five hundredths of a second clear of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne also matched his earlier efforts by taking 10th place in the session.

Elsewhere the only real drama occurred right at the end of the session when Williams’ Lance Stroll was force to stop on track after encountering trouble.

01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:23.931 35
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:24.058 34
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes AMG 1:24.159 34
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:24.214 39
05 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:24.451 38
06 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:24.648 34
07 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:24.721 28
08 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:25.200 28
09 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:25.246 30
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:25.285 34
11 Carlos Sainz Renault F1 1:25.390 35
12 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:25.413 30
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault F1 1:25.463 35
14 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:25.543 32
15 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:25.888 33
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 1:25.925 41
17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 1:25.945 39
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:25.974 37
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:26.814 31
20 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:26.815 35

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