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2017 Malaysia Grand Prix: Friday Free Practice Round Up

Free Practice 1

A rain delayed Free Practice 1 belonged to the two Red Bull drivers. Max Verstappen was the fastest in the session ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

A 30-minute delay was needed for the standing water around the track to clear up and as soon as the green light went on, the drivers filed out of the pits. The two Red Bull drivers swapped fastest times on the green marked intermediate tyres but it was Verstappen who prevailed towards the end of the session with a best time of 1:48.962. Ricciardo’s best time of 1:49.719 was 0.757s off the pace.

Further back was the McLaren of Fernando Alonso who managed a best time of 1:50.597 to finish 3rd fastest ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel who finished 4th and 5th fastest respectively.

Lews Hamilton finished 6th ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas in 7th. Williams’ Lance Stroll finished strong in 8th.

On his F1 debut, Pierre Gasly ended his first practice session in 9th ahead of Sergei Sirotkin in the Renault who rounded out the top 10.

Free Practice 2

Thundershowers were expected for the start of Free Practice 2 but the session started dry with the rain staying away.

This time the Ferrari drivers were dominant in the session with Sebastian Vettel setting a session best time of 1:31.261, more than half a second faster than team mate Kimi Raikkonen who could only manage a 1:31.865.

The session was cut short by 10 minutes after Haas’ Romain Grosjean was spat into the barrier after making contact with a loose drain cover. Grosjean ran over the drain cover with his right rear, which instantly disintegrated on impact and sent him sliding across the track, across the gravel trap and into the tyre barrier. Replays of the incident showed that the cover had been dislodged and was narrowly missed by Bottas and Raikkonen who had run over it moments before Grosjean.

Race Director Charlie Whiting was out on track to inspect the damaged drain cover and after further investigations concluded that the cover had worked it’s way loose due to the higher G-forces the 2017 cars produce.

“That’s a high-G corner with massive load being put through, and what we have found is some of these drains are bolted down and some are welded down,” said Whiting talking to

“Welding is perfectly acceptable. I suspect the bolts have probably broken and rather than replace the whole thing, they’ve thought, ‘we’ll weld it down’.

“Quite evidently, the welds just gave up. It’s as simple as that really. No one saw that coming.”

The Red Bulls were almost a second off the pace of the Ferrari’s this time with Ricciardo finishing 3rd fastest ahead of Verstappen in 4th, with not much between the two of them.

The Mercedes drivers could not seem to get a decent time together on either of the dry tyres managing only 6th and 7th fastest in the session with Hamilton finishing ahead of Bottas. The car seemed a handful for the pair with a few off track moments.

Fernando Alonso in the McLaren finished in 5th ahead of the two Mercedes.

Force India were able to get in the mix in the dry with Sergio Perez finishing 8th fastest and Esteban Ocon 10th fastest. Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault split the pink panthers with a 9th fastest time.

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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