Rosberg puts Mercedes on top in final practice session

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Sepang, 2012Nico Rosberg showed Mercedes’ potential in the final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

He was 0.4 seconds faster than his closest competitor as practice concluded at the Sepang International Circuit.

The session began on a damp but drying circuit. Following their installation laps the drivers sat tight in the pits, waiting for their competitors to make the first move.

Bruno Senna was the first to head out on slick tyres. As his times dipped into the 1’40s most of his rivals joined him on the track.

The lap times fell quickly on the busy circuit, and with 20 minutes to go Vettel had all-but matched the quickest time seen during yesterday’s running.

But Hamilton aborted his first run after a lurid, high-speed slide off the track at turn 13.

Pastor Maldonado was one of the last drivers to set their first time. His lap of 1’37.455 put the Williams fastest by half a second, indicating their potential.

Hamilton was one of the first to do a lap on medium tyres, but his 1’37.776 fell short of Maldonado’s best. The Williams was quickly demoted by the Red Bulls, both Lotuses and Rosberg’s Mercedes.

The drivers stayed on the track for a second lap on the softer tyres but none could find any improvement.

That left Rosberg on top ahead of a closely-matched group comprising the two Red Bulls, two Lotuses, Jenson Button and Maldonado covered by just 0.135s.

Michael Schumacher was eighth-quickest with Hamilton and Kamui Kobayashi completing the top ten.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’36.877 16
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’37.320 0.443 15
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.338 0.461 12
4 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’37.356 0.479 13
5 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’37.382 0.505 13
6 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.404 0.527 12
7 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’37.455 0.578 13
8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’37.663 0.786 15
9 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.776 0.899 8
10 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’37.977 1.100 17
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’38.091 1.214 20
12 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.178 1.301 15
13 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’38.246 1.369 17
14 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’38.285 1.408 16
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.423 1.546 13
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.640 1.763 11
17 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’38.794 1.917 18
18 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’39.209 2.332 16
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’39.704 2.827 15
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’40.189 3.312 14
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’41.901 5.024 14
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’42.007 5.130 14
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’42.464 5.587 14
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’43.378 6.501 17

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix


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28 comments on Rosberg puts Mercedes on top in final practice session

  1. Tiago Almeida (@almejida) said on 24th March 2012, 6:10

    It seems the rear wing trick really does the difference for Mercedes!

  2. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 24th March 2012, 6:11

    I think we’re in for a corker.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th March 2012, 6:56

      @electrolite – I just hope they actually show the cars this year. Last year, Hamilton, Button, Webber and Vettel were all in with a fairly good shot at pole. They all waited as long as they dared to before going out, and were ultimately within fourth tenths of a second of one another. It was really exciting stuff.

      But they weren’t the only cars out there – Alonso went out first to get a timed lap in. He was ultimately a second behind Vettel, but guess who the cameras followed around? Alonso. That’s right, despite it being immediately obvious that Alonso wasn’t going to challenge for pole, were were “treated” to following his flying lap, despite the other four drivers being out there and matching one another sector-for-sector. It was only once Alonso completed his lap that we got to see what the other four were doing. Which mostly invovled them coming down the back straight, taking the final corner and crossing the line before cutting to the next driver in order and starting over from the back straight. It was an exciting session, and we missed almost all of it for the sake of a driver who was a second off the pace.

      That’s why I reckon Formula 1 should consider a V8 Supercars-style top ten. At the end of Q2, the top ten runners go out one at a time and get the circuit to themselves for a lap, heading out in reverse order (or, alternatively, the fastest driver in Q2 gets to decide when he goes out, then the second-fastest driver and so on). It might make Q2 all the more exciting, with drivers competing for track position in Q3.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th March 2012, 6:13

    Not good for Ferrari. I doubt even Alonso will be able to repeat his Melbourne performance.

    • duncanmonza (@duncanmonza) said on 24th March 2012, 6:27

      Hard to imagine how they made a car that bad, especially when they were the fastest car without the off throttle engine mapping last year.

      • Enigma (@enigma) said on 24th March 2012, 6:33

        @duncanmonza That was one race, with a completely wet Friday and a wet start to the race. It was all about adapting to the off-throttle and guessing setup after not doing anything useful in practice sessions. And that was Ferrari’s best part of the season, in those June/July races they got their best results of the whole year.

        They did a good job but it’s not resperentative of things. It’s not like Ferrari had been over a second off the pace and when the Silverstone ban came, they won.

        • Enigma (@enigma) said on 24th March 2012, 6:35

          Correction of the second paragraph:

          They did a good job but it’s not resperentative of things. It’s not like Ferrari had been over a second off the pace and the Silverstone ban gave them two seconds compared to Red Bull.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th March 2012, 6:45

          @duncanmonza, @enigma – And don’t forget that, even when the OTBD was banned at Silverstone, they were still able to use a blown diffuser. The exhaust regulations were changed this year to prevent that, even if some teams have created a “simulated” blown diffuser effect by positioning the exhaust outlet in such a way that air travelling over the car picks it up and pulls it over the top of the diffuser.

          Besides, Ferrari’s problem isn’t a lack of downforce. It’s the way the front end and the back end appear to be doing two completely different things. The car understeers going into the corner, and oversteers coming out, which has developed a real twitchiness in the chassis. It’s very sensitive to changes, and both Alonso and Massa are having to hold off on the thorttle until the car is straightened out, or else risk turning it around. And the F2012 doesn’t appear to be particularly great at using its tyres properly, either. I’m guessing that the problem might have something to do with the exhaust overheating the inside of the rear tyres, so not only are the front and rear tyres running at different temperatures to one another, but different parts of the rear tyres are running at different temperatures to one another.

          • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 24th March 2012, 6:56

            Partly the problem with the F2012 is the pull-rod front suspension i reckon, the correlation between the suspension and the front tyres in terms of geometry is poor, explaining the heap amounts of understeer it suffers. Plus the car just simply lacks traction out of corners, all in all possibly contributing to the problems they’ve been having with correlation between their wind tunnel & track performance recently, this should pretty much sum up what yo’ve said.

            This car is not only poor in the aerodynamic department but also in the Mechanical one too.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th March 2012, 7:23

            @younger-hami

            the car just simply lacks traction out of corners

            I’m not sure if it’s a case of totally lacking traction, but more that there is no traction to begin with and then suddenly it’s all there at once. The lack of subtlety about it means that if you get onto the power too soon, the sudden burst of traction will simply turn you around.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 24th March 2012, 6:34

      It will probably come down to retirements for them

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th March 2012, 7:53

      @prisoner-monkeys They’re not even on my radar for predictions this weekend.

  4. Mike said on 24th March 2012, 6:16

    Great to see the merc in the mix Hamilton should secure pole but as the race tomorrow??… rain could throw it all up in the air… Might see michael & kimi on the podium!

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th March 2012, 6:26

    The first pole and polt-to-win for Nico? Possibly! Even though I dont think he would have the same pace in the race…it would be very interesting. Some teams has upper hand in the quali but not in the race. I think Mclaren and Red bull is the most balanced team but who knows?

    Also I have to admit I’m getting worried about Ferrari. I don’t know this is their pure performace but it’s worring form. meanwhile Maldonado looks good again and I hope no such mistake again.

  6. Shomir (@shomir) said on 24th March 2012, 6:27

    will be interesting to see if this will be Ferrari’s worst start to a season since 2009???

  7. type056 said on 24th March 2012, 6:30

    was McLarens run with much more fuel?
    their time was not impresive.

    • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 24th March 2012, 6:50

      I really hope they were although i’m very skeptical at the moment watching JB’s onboard at the end of FP3, he was pushing really hard as if he was doing a Quali simulation (well all teams would normally doing simulations relative to Qualifying at the latter stages of Saturday Practice) and were still quite a bit of the pace of Rosberg’s best time, Concentrating on Race pace? it’s a definite possibility.

  8. Enigma (@enigma) said on 24th March 2012, 6:42

    I reckon 6 teams currently have better one-lap pace than Ferrari – I can’t see Alonso getting in the Q3 if it’s dry to be honest. Their race pace does seem much better, Alonso wasn’t slow at all on high-fuel in Melbourne.

  9. Kremer (@kremer) said on 24th March 2012, 6:43

    Eh… Let’s see if it rains, and who gets out first to set any fast times before that track goes to hell.

  10. Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 24th March 2012, 6:49

    Is it too early to suggest that this may be the most exciting season yet?

  11. Dev (@dev) said on 24th March 2012, 7:29

    Massa down by a sec to Alonso is a clear signal for Massa to move out of Ferrari, but where? Ferrari can get rid of him whenever they want… but whats the use of him sitting there and destroying his own career?

    • cjpdk (@cjpdk) said on 24th March 2012, 20:14

      Massa still has a chance. All drivers have losing streaks. In fact, anyone who plays anything has losing streaks.

      The problem is if this streak continues for too long. I think he has till the end of the year to at least get a podium. If he hasn’t upped his game, he should be thrown out.

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