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Hamilton quickest in Malaysia P1

2014-03-28 07:06


PUSH FOR GROSJEAN: Track marshals push Romain Grosjean's Lotus after his engine stopped during first practice for the 2014 Malaysian F1 GP in Sepang on march 28. Image: AFP

SEPANG, Malaysia - Mercedes' early-season strength was again evident with Lewis Hamilton going fastest in Friday's first practice for the 2014 Malaysian Formula 1 GP in a session in which many cars struggled for grip.

The 2008 F1 champion clocked a best time of 1min40.691 at the Sepang Circuit on a scorching hot Friday during which track temperature reached 44 degrees during the 90-minute session.

Hamilton was also one of many drivers who encountered the Malaysian gravel after locking his wheels. He said over the team radio: "This is like driving on marbles."


Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was second-quickest with 1min40.843, just ahead of Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg who won the first race of 2014 in Australia two weeks earlier.

Jenson Button was fourth-quickest ahead of McLaren team mate Kevin Magnussen, whose car stopped on the track at turn 15 and needed a push from the marshals to get back to the pits with 30 minutes remaining.

Magnussen was second in Australia on his F1 debut. He went back out later, though, relieving fears of a more serious issue with his car.

There was plenty of concern in the Lotus garage with neither Romain Grosjean nor Pastor Maldonado able to complete a timed lap. Grosjean stopped at turn 10 and had to be pushed off the track by marshals; smoke billowed out of Maldonado's car in the final minutes and he was told to switch off the engine by a concerned team.

Jean-Eric Vergne was sixth for Toro Rosso but his rookie Russian team mate Daniil Kyvat was 14th after telling his team over the radio the car was "undriveable".

2013 champion Sebastian Vettel was seventh-quickest, almost a second behind Hamilton, after managing only nine laps; team mate Daniel Ricciardo managed 20 laps and finished 12th.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, first out of the pits to set the early pace, was 11th. He also had problems with grip and spun at turn eight. The same corner caught out his former team mate Felipe Massa (Williams) but he also resumed.

Sauber's Adrian Sutil ran wide at turn 15 but kept the car going before making it back on the track.

Friday's second session ahead of Sunday's race was scheduled to start at at 6am GMT

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