Malaysian GP Practice: No more champagne for Webber, Hamilton fastest
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton prevented Red Bull’s Mark Webber from snatching a third consecutive fastest time in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Webber was the fastest man on Friday running, and was only three tenths off Hamilton’s fastest time during Free Practice three.
Webber conducted a high fuel simulation run across 12 laps and spent much of the session barely ahead of Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio and both HRT cars. Teammate Sebastian Vettel reported an issue with his rear wing not stalling effectively and spent a period of time in the pits as the team attended to his concerns.
Vettel’s practice session ended rather unusually as his onboard camera detached from his car at the very end of the session. It was the second consecutive Grand Prix for an onboard camera to separate from a car after Felipe Massa’s Ferrari suffered an identical fate during a session in the Australian Grand Prix.
Both McLarens of Hamilton and Jenson Button appear to be the most likely pairing to disrupt Red Bull’s run of high performance in the lead up to qualifying. Despite Ferrari appearing as the most likely team to threaten the Red Bulls early in the season, they struggled to set a time to eclipse the Red Bulls.
Renault enjoyed a healthy session with Nick Heidfeld rather relieved to forget his Australian performance and Friday dramas by setting the fourth fastest time, and Vitaly Petrov in seventh.
Teams have experienced a different experience with tyre degradation on the Pirelli tyres. Large strips of rubber have littered the Sepang circuit throughout running, as Pirelli introduced teams to a relatively conservative compound for experimentation earlier on Friday.
Both HRTs managed a less fraught session compared to their Australian lead up and Friday running. Tonio Liuzzi only reported a water issue within his car, however both cars were not within the 107% window during the third practice session.
Rain failed to threaten proceedings so far this weekend with all three-practice sessions conducted in the dry. Forecasts have predicted showers and thunderstorms for qualifying, however it is likely that the qualifying session will remain dry.