Hamilton heads Mercedes 1-2 in second practice

Hamilton heads Mercedes 1-2 in second practice

14 March 2014 – Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes 1-2 during second practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. The Briton, who failed to complete a timed lap in the opening session after an oil pressure alarm shut down his power unit, clocked a best effort of 1:29.625 to lead team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.157 seconds.

Perhaps ominously for the rest of the field, only the Silver Arrows dipped into the 1m29s bracket, with nearest challenger Fernando Alonso, who set the pace earlier in the day, more than half a second adrift of Hamilton.

It was Rosberg who moved to the fore early on, remaining on top when the switch from Medium to Soft rubber arrived. But Hamilton made the change much later than his rivals and duly surged clear at the halfway mark.

Although he trailed the Mercedes drivers by a sizeable margin as the chequered flag dropped, Alonso was at least able to find 1.7 seconds between sessions, and encountered no serious issues with the F14T chassis.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel rounded off an encouraging day for the reigning World Champions in fourth position, displaying signs of raw pace and topping the second practice mileage charts on a total of 41 laps.

Jenson Button took fifth but concluded his Friday programme as the only driver not to trial the Soft compound tyres, suggesting that there could be more to come from the McLaren package as the weekend develops.

Daniel Ricciardo backed up Vettel's pace in sixth, with fellow Finns Kimi Räikkönen and Valtteri Bottas placing seventh and eighth for their respective Ferrari and Williams teams. McLaren's Kevin Magnussen wound up ninth, while Nico Hülkenberg, who beached his Force India in the closing minutes, completed the top ten positions.

Toro Rosso duo Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat, who sandwiched Felipe Massa, Sergio Pérez and the two Saubers, again produced the majority of off-track excursions, as their brake-by-wire struggles continued.

Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton put a healthy number of laps on the board for Marussia, racking up a race distance between them, with the team taking the opportunity to carry out practice pit-stops late in the day.

Lotus's Romain Grosjean was at least able to conduct his first running of the Grand Prix weekend, but he ended the afternoon in the Turn 6 gravel trap after dramatically losing control of the ill-handling E22 under braking.

It was even worse for Lotus team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who suffered a suspected ERS issue and failed to complete a single lap. The Caterham drivers suffered a similar fate; Marcus Ericsson could only complete an install lap before being struck by a hydraulics problem, while Kamui Kobayashi faced a fuel system issue.

Saturday's final free practice session in Melbourne gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +11)

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