Malaysian GP practice as it happened

Lewis Hamilton is fastest in both practice sessions ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur.

23 March 2012 Last updated at 07:57

Get involved

To get involved contact us in any of the following ways

As it happened

  1. 0750: 

    That's all from me, folks. I've got to prepare for her majesty's arrival. Don't forget Inside F1, hosted by our F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie, which airs at 1845 GMT on the BBC News Channel, plus all manner of lovely video mopping up reaction to practice on this very website. I'll be back at 0430 GMT to take you through third practice and then qualifying. I do hope you'll join me. Ta-ta for now.

  2. 0745: 

    If you're just waking up and munching your way through a bowl of cereal, let me point you in the direction of Andrew Benson's practice report to get you up to speed. In short, Lewis Hamilton looked mighty behind the wheel of the McLaren with his team-mate Jenson Button, Red Bull and Mercedes not too far behind. Qualifying is shaping up rather nicely, I'd say.


    BBC Radio 5 live breakfast presenter Simon King: "I think qualifying should stay dry but there is a greater chance of a downpour on Sunday for race. Hot (33C) and humid!"

  4. 0740: 

    In the hands of Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari "didn't look to bad on the long run" reports the Italian team. The Spaniard finished 0.7 seconds off the pace, however his team-mate Felipe Massa continued to struggle. The Brazilian could only manage 16th fastest overall, two seconds off the pace.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "McLaren are still a step forward ahead of everybody else so I don't see that it will be a problem for them to win here again. Red Bull were more or less where they were in Australia and should be ahead of Mercedes in the race. Tyre management and strategy will be the key. Flat spotting for tyres will be an issue especially at the first and last corners."

  6. 0738: 

    Lovely stuff from the British boys today. Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a disappointing showing by his standards in Australia to top both practice sessions. He has turned that frown upside down (sorry) and has sent out an ominous warning to his rivals. Jenson Button, meanwhile, was a strong third after suffering an oil leak in first practice. The 2009 world champion started slowly in Oz, focusing more on race set-up, so Hamilton can't discount him from the battle for pole and victory.


    Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery: "We thought coming to Malaysia would be a tough test because we have gone for an aggressive strategy with our tyres and there is clearly a lot of degradation. There is an average 0.5 second difference between the medium and hard tyres compounds here but the gap is varying up and down the teams. The tyres will be a key factor this weekend."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "It looks like the mix of the McLaren and Mercedes will take up most of the positions on the front of the grid. The McLarens's tyres look very good but the Mercedes' tyres look suspect after the long runs. Having said that Fernando Alonso came in after a long run and the tyres on his Ferrari looked the best I've seen, so maybe they are turning things round. Red Bull have been working pretty hard in the garage but at the minute they've got a big job to do and they have to get on and attack it. Pole position should be a real shoot-out."

  9. 0730: 


  10. 0729: 

    With just a minute remaining, Narain Karthikeyan causes a scene by spinning his HRT at the penultimate corner. He doesn't stall it, though, and manages to crawl back to the pits with his tail between his legs.

  11. 0728: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes off the track again, this time at the penultimate corner - Turn 14. Looks like those medium tyres are coming to the end of their life, but the McLaren continues on to generate valuable data for the team.

  12. 0726: 

    A turning vane has just detached itself from Charles Pic's Marussia, but it's off the racing line and shouldn't cause too much of a problem. The young French rookie is doing a solid job but is lapping around one second slower than his more experienced team-mate Timo Glock.

  13. 0724: 

    Fernando Alonso has had enough of his hard tyres. The Spaniard pits for a set of medium option tyres and then heads straight back out. Lewis Hamilton is still out there pushing. The Brit asks his team where he needs to find time, to which they reply - "three tenths in the middle sector."

  14. 0721: 

    Lewis Hamilton pushes the limits of his McLaren, running wide at Turn 7 before rejoining. That's about the only thing of note out on track at the moment as the teams continue their long runs.

  15. 0719: 

    If the teams are doing extended runs on the medium option tyre to find the limit of the rubber, it means we're unlikely to see a change in the standings. That would mean Lewis Hamilton tops the time for the second successive session, ahead of Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes-powered 1-2-3-4.


    Force India on Twitter: "Like most teams we are wrapping up our free practice programme with some extended runs on the mediums."

  17. 0716: 

    Game over for Heikki Kovalainen. The Caterham driver has a technical problem, but the team don't know what it is. That sounds like a busy afternoon for the boys in green and yellow.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Mark Webber came in after a fairly long run and the inside shoulder of the rear tyres looked fairly tatty. Red Bull have changed the front and rear torsion bars and the rear ride height on his car. That's more than I've seen Red bull change their car mechanically than over the last few years."

  19. 0714: 

    Sauber have done a remarkable job to put Kamui Kobayashi's car back together. The Japanese is now back out on track with just over 15 minutes remaining. Bravo.

  20. 0711: 

    So Lewis Hamilton is still quickest of all, 0.361 seconds clear of Michael Schumacher with Jenson Button just behind. Nico Rosberg is fourth, five tenths off the pace and two tenths off his Mercedes team-mate.

  21. 0709: 

    Poor old Mark Webber looks like he's sitting in a sauna, rather than an F1 cockpit. The Australian is currently seventh fastest overall, 0.961 seconds off the pace.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "It was nice for Lewis Hamilton to get into Sergio Perez's slipstream for the last two straights on that lap. I don't think he held him up." Hamilton thinks otherwise, though, venting his frustrating on team radio.


    BBC 5 live breakfast weather presenter Simon King: "Showers to the west of Sepang have now eased. Rest of practice should remain dry."

  24. 0707: 

    Mercedes are looking mighty quick and then general perception in the paddock is that the Silver Arrow could be in with a shout at pole position. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson takes a closer look...

  25. 0705: 

    Lewis Hamilton goes one step better, though, beating Michael Schumacher's time by 0.020 seconds on the medium tyres. So that's the top three separated by just 0.022 seconds with the top 12 covered by less than a second. Let's hope it's that close in qualifying.

  26. 0702: 

    Australian GP victor Jenson Button has stuck a set of medium option tyres and sets the best middle sector of all. However, he can't improve in the final sector and finishes 0.002 seconds adrift of Michael Schumacher.

  27. 0700: 

    Felipe Massa gets it all wrong in the final corner to mess up his lap and leave him 15th overall. His Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso is doing a better job up in sixth, 0.358 seconds off the ultimate pace.

  28. 0658: 

    Michael Schumacher bolts on a set of medium option tyres and immediately lights up the times in all three sectors. That puts the Merc top of the pile, 0.084 seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Paul di Resta just went into the gravel on power, onto the grass and lost the rear end. At these speeds in fifth gear it's difficult to control the rear of the car. The car is pulling a lot down at that point and it's very difficult to catch it. It was a big snap."

  30. 0655: 

    Paul di Resta finds himself off the track once more. This time, he loses the back end at high speed and spins the Force India onto the grass. He keeps the engine running and rejoins the track, but he'll have to head back to the pits to clean that car up. Maybe the team haven't got to the bottom of that braking issue...

  31. 0652: 

    It's a battle of the McLarens at the moment. Jenson Button closes to within 0.057 seconds of pacesetter and team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Could we be in for a second successive all-McLaren front row?

  32. 0649: 

    Lewis Hamilton just misses the apex on the Turn 15 hairpin, but still improves on that same set of hard tyres to go 0.236 seconds clear of the field. Evidently, there's still some pace to come from that McLaren. Seconds later, Jenson Button shows his hand with a 1:38.858 which is good enough for third fastest overall, 0.241 seconds behind Jenson Button.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Felipe Massa's poor performance in Australia last weekend - an effective 1.5 seconds slower than team-mate Fernando Alonso in qualifying - has led to reports in Italy that the team are considering dropping the Brazilian. Massa shrugged the stories off on arrival in Malaysia, saying: 'I really don't care. I never drove thinking about what others are thinking or saying about me. I am doing my job thinking about the best I can do in the car,which was not the case in Australia. I was not happy about what happened there.' And he has Alonso's backing: 'There is full trust of Felipe in the team. In winter testing with the same car there was not more than one tenth between us. I suspect Australia was a one-off and I think Ferrari and Felipe will be together for a long time and very strong.' Nevertheless, Massa will be anxious to have a good weekend."

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Kimi Raikkonen is very sensitive when it comes to his cars, and he's still not happy. They've changed the anti-rollbar on the Lotus. There's a lot of work going on with that car."

  35. 0645: 

    And Lewis Hamilton goes quickest, edging in front of Daniel Ricciardo by 0.037 seconds. Sebastian Vettel gets on the radio reporting that "the car is all over the place. Poor balance," before dashing straight back to the pits.

  36. 0641: 

    Fernando Alonso has improved to a 1:38.891 which puts him second fastest overall, 0.038 seconds off the pace set by Daniel Ricciardo. Lewis Hamilton is third fastest overall ahead of Mark Webber, Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel and Pastor Maldonado. Lewis Hamilton is about to begin a flying lap on a brand new set of hard tyres. Let's see what he can do...

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Red Bull have slightly revised their sidepods here. This morning Red Bull were doing a bit of measurement around the exhaust pipe and were trying to see how far the exhaust gasses were reaching. They have made some subtle changes involving the ducts on the rear of the car. Red Bull will be keen to show McLaren that Australia was a one-off and that they can turn it around here."

  38. 0636: 

    Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber is in pieces in the garage. They have removed the engine and are working on the transmission. It looks like we won't be seeing the Japanese out on track until tomorrow.

  39. 0634: 

    Williams look to have carried over their pace from Australia with Pastor Maldonado running well in seventh, 0.59 seconds off the pace. Bruno Senna is a bit further back in 12th, 1.8 seconds behind the leader. Things aren't going so well for Lotus at the moment, though, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean 18th and 19th respectively and 3.9 seconds off the pace.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "With reference to The Write Formula's question [just after 0620] about whether Lotus can keep up with development this year when they could not last year, I've been speaking to the team on that very subject. Trackside operations director Alan Permane told me that the reason they fell behind last year was to do with their forward-facing exhaust - it meant they could not exploit the development of exhaust-blown diffusers as much as their rivals. That issue has gone away this year. I asked him if he felt they could hang on in the development race this season, and he said: 'I don't see why not. I know these other guys have got huge resources but we're not minnows. We may not be as big as them, but we can still produce things quickly. We've got a few little bits and bobs for Malaysia, a huge update coming for China. There'll be stuff coming all the time.'"

  41. 0630: 

    Mark Webber has headed out on the medium option tyre, while Lewis Hamilton has decided to stick with the harder prime tyre. The duo are currently separated by two tenths of the second, with the latter currently the quicker. Daniel Ricciardo is still fastest.


    Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas: "I have really enjoyed the drive [in first practice]. The heat is OK when you are driving, but it's when you have stopped and feel it from the engine and the tyres get hot."

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Sauber seem to be having another gearbox problem. Sergio Perez was docked five places on the grid after changing his gearbox before the race and now today Kamui Kobayashi is stood by the side of his car with more of the same problems."


    Caterham on Twitter: "TVs showing a reply of Heikki diving down the inside of Webber. Would like to see that on a Sunday!"

  45. 0626: 

    Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen having an extraordinary battle out on track. The Caterham dived down the inside of the Red Bull into Turn 1 and the two almost touch wheels. The Australian makes short work of the Finn later in the lap and continues on his way. That's probably the closest Kovalainen will come to racing a Red Bull this season...

  46. 0623: 

    We have a new leader in the form of Daniel Ricciardo. The young Australian usurps Lewis Hamilton at the top of the times by 0.068 seconds - but he was on the medium option tyre, whereas Hamilton set his time on the hard tyre.


    From The Write Formula on Twitter: "Lotus appear to be showing some promising pace, however they did the same last year. What will enable them to keep it up?"

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Everybody will be trying to get a lot of running done in this second session to see how long the tyres will last on high fuel loads. A bit more news on Ferrari. Fernando Alonso has a new front wing with five slot gaps. It's strange because the front wing endplate is nowhere near as aggressive as the ones Red Bull and McLaren have. It's an area we'll see development on in the coming races."


    Force India team manager Andy Stevenson on why Paul di Resta went off the circuit: "Paul developed a braking issue. It'll now be a simple case of swapping components and that's it. It's nothing we are really worried about."

  50. 0620: 

    Sebastian Vettel makes his move, too, edging ahead of Fernando Alonso in the timings, but still a massive 0.7 seconds off Lewis Hamilton's leading time. We're now just waiting for the Caterhams of Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen to complete a lap time.

  51. 0618: 

    Fernando Alonso has shown his hand, putting that new front wing to good use on his way to the second fastest time. However, moments before, Lewis Hamilton had gone even faster - a 1:38.921 - which means the Ferrari driver is still 0.7 seconds off the pace.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Toro Rosso newboy Jean-Eric Vergne is a fairly intense character and he has admitted in Malaysia to being glad this race is so soon after Melbourne - losing out on a point on his debut in the last-lap chaos surrounding seventh to 11th places has been eating away at him a bit. The pace of the car, though, has given the Frenchman and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who did grab a couple of points for ninth place, something to smile about, as Vergne acknowledged with a little reference to his team's notoriously cranky technical director. 'The car looks quick and Giorgio Ascanelli looks happy which is apparently quite rare,' he said, 'So that's a really good sign.'"

  53. 0616: 

    Toro Rosso are showing good pace at the moment with Daniel Ricciardo fourth, 0.5 seconds off the pace, and Jean-Eric Vergne, who is making his F1 debut this year, sixth, a further three tenths off the pace.

  54. 0614: 

    Lewis Hamilton shows why this McLaren seems to be quick in all conditions as he pops up into top spot on the timing board. The Brit is 0.14 seconds quicker than his team-mate Jenson Button, who is in turn 0.1 seconds quicker than Michael Schumacher.


    Caterham chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "All the drivers reporting a lot less grip than this morning."

  56. 0612: 

    Fernando Alonso may have been one of the first men out on track, but he's one of only four drivers - Sebastian Vettel, Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov - who has yet to set a flying lap.

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "Because Sepang is always one of the most physical races for the drivers, most arrived in Malaysia as early as possible to train and acclimatise to the heat. Some drivers relish the hot conditions - Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, for example - while others like the Scots and Finns find it a bit more difficult to adjust to. Meanwhile, Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen has been struggling since Australia with a very heavy cold and told me he has been operating at 60% all week so he can give 100% for the rest of the weekend."

  58. 0610: 

    Paul di Resta is having all sorts of problems in the Force India. The Scot outbrakes himself into the final haipin, locks his tyres and skids off into the gravel. Good spot to go off there because it's right next to the pit lane entry. Downside, of course, is that he's ruined a set of tyres.

  59. 0608: 

    Everyone is out on the hard compound tyre, the rubber of choice in this morning session, apart from Kimi Raikkonen who has bolted on a set of option medium tyres. I'll keep you posted on how he does. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher is the first man into the 1m39s to go top of the pile, 0.3 seconds quicker than the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo and a further two tenths ahead of the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "With Jenson Button's oil leak [from Practice 1] it was decided it wasn't worth risking the engine, but it should all be sorted for Practice 2."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Ferrari still appear to be in a bit of disarray, and one of their problems is to do with their front suspension geometry. All front tyres pick up used rubber from the track- normally you get a band on the inside shoulder about two to three centimetres wide. But in the Ferrari it's about 10cm wide. You can't clean it off and it reduces grip. It happens because whenever the car is in a corner, the tyre rolls to a more positive camber from the static position, which has the tops of the wheels leaning in towards the chassis. The Ferrari rolls off too much camber in high speed so they have to run as much camber as possible for the low speed. They've missed the boat in the compromise between the two and as a result they're not using the tyre correctly. That's an issue of suspension geometry - how the wheel reacts to the car going up and down. To change that, they'd have to change their front suspension layout, the position of the wishbones, etc. A lot of attention has focused on the unique pull-rod front suspension Ferrari are running this year - but although this could all be associated with that, it's not specifically the push-rod that's causing it."

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Sauber are very unhappy with the way their cars are handling. Sergio Perez didn't have a good first practice at all."

  63. 0605: 

    Sergio Perez catches the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso too quickly and is forced to take avoiding action to avoid contact. Pedro de la Rosa is in a spot of bother, too, spinning his HRT in the middle sector before recovering.

  64. 0603: 

    Timo Glock gets us going with a 1:46.413, three seconds quicker than Narain Karthikeyan. That time is quickly blown out of the water by Mark Webber who clocks 1:41.144 to become the new leader.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "The drivers are trying to take on as many fluids as they can. During the session all the fluid gets absorbed into their racesuits."

  66. 0600: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    The pit lane is now open and Timo Glock is the first man out on track in the Marussia, closely followed by the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan who stopped out on track this morning. Fernando Alonso, who missed much of the first part of the first session, is out nice and early and sporting a shiny new front wing. Unfortunately, there's only one available, so Felipe Massa is stuck with the old one.

  67. 0555: 

    If you switch the wireless on now, you'll hear the dulcet tones of James Allen and Jaime Alguersuari on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. They'll be joined by Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery in the box - so expect plenty of chat about rubber - while Jennie Gow and Gary Anderson will be roaming the pit lane.

  68. 0550: 

    In the words of The Subways, I want to hear what you have got to say. Are you excited by the prospect of rain? Can Mercedes use their controversial rear wing to grab a maiden pole position? Will Sebastian Vettel bite back after his defeat down under? Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 or text in on 81111 (UK), remembering to put your name on it, mind.

  69. 0544: 

    Sebastian Vettel's cockpit is smoking, though it's emitting vapours from dry ice rather than anything sinister. It's just one of the solutions the teams are using to try and keep the drivers cool in the sweltering conditions. Red Bull have had the hairdryers out, blowing cool air obviously, while McLaren have gone for the giant fan at the back of the garage approach. The rain may be coming, but it's still might hot and humid down in the pit lane.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    On Mercedes' rear wing: "When the driver opens up the DRS to increase straight-line speed he uncovers two small holes in the rear wing end plates. Those holes are connected right through the car to the front wing. On the leading edge of that flap on the front wing is a slot and the low pressure area under the wing sucks air from the rear wing through that slot when the DRS is open and reduces the front wing's performance. And then when the DRS is shut those holes are shut off and the front wing performance returns to normal."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "This will be a very revealing race for Mercedes. The team showed promising pace in Australia, with Michael Schumacher qualifying fourth, but it all fell apart in the race with high tyre degradation. This was a major problem for them last year, but it was something they thought that had cured with their new car on the evidence of pre-season testing. Mercedes vice-president of competition Norbert Haug said: 'If anything, we thought before Melbourne we would struggle a little bit on one-lap pace but we were quite convinced that we looked quite good on long runs, but it turned out to be the other way around, which is the nature of F1 sometimes.' Tracks don't come much tougher on tyres than Sepang, so by Sunday Mercedes should find out whether Melbourne really was a one-off or if they have a bigger problem than they think."


    From ViHenry87 on Twitter: "Really want Michael Schumacher to win a race this season, maybe a bit optimistic? Podium maybe?"

  73. 0538: 

    I've got a couple of Sebastian Vettel related stats for you before we get back under way. The German's second place in Melbourne meant that he has now been on the podium in 22 of the last 25 races. But by qualifying sixth down under, the reigning world champion was of the front row for only the second time in those 25 races. Vettel looked pretty handy in first practice, though, and he reckons there's still plenty of pace to unlock in that Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull. Fighting talk from the young German.


    From Tom Clayton on Twitter: "Tyre management will be key on Sunday. Remember last year where Hamilton wore out his tyres and needed an extra stop?"

  75. 0534: 

    So it looks like rain is on the way. That kind of scuppers the teams' plans to get some accurate data on the option tyre this afternoon. I suspect we'll see plenty of action right from the off in this session in an attempt to beat the weather.

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "With less than half an hour to go before second practice, it looks like we might be about to get wet. The sky has darkened and looks like it might pop, the wind has picked up and all the palm trees are blowing in the breeze. It's really strange - the air actually smells different."


    Marussia on Twitter: "The wind's getting up. Could be some wet stuff on its way?"

  78. 0530: 

    I think I've eaten one too many chocolate digestives, but I'm blaming that on my nerves ahead of her majesty the Queen's arrival in BBC HQ later this morning. Anyway, less of that. We've got more pressing matters in the form of a 90-minute practice session at Sepang International Circuit.

  79. 0340: 

    And, that ladies and gentlemen, is that. First blood to Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher within 0.8 seconds of the McLaren driver. I'm off for a pitstop now but I'll be back at 0530 GMT to guide you through second practice where we're expecting some option tyre runs.

  80. 0335: 

    Felipe Massa finished 13th fastest in his Ferrari, two places and one tenth quicker than team-mate Fernando Alonso. There was better news for McLaren who finished first and ninth with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button respectively. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were second and sixth with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber separated by half a second.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Ferrari will struggle more than Melbourne as this is a track where car performance is showed up."

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen

    "The order looks right to me. McLaren are half a second ahead off the Red Bulls and the Mercedes and Lotus cars are there or theresabouts. It looks like a terrifically competitive weekend."

  83. 0333: 

    That's a pretty impressive debut from young Valtteri Bottas who stepped into Bruno Senna's seat for this session at Williams. The reserve driver finished 0.061 seconds ahead of team-mate Pastor Maldonado which will boost his confidence. Strong showing from Romain Grosjean, too, who had issues with the right rear wheel earlier in the session, as he finishes fifth fastest, two tenths clear of Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

  84. 0330: 


  85. 0327: 

    BBC F1 analyst Gary Anderson says he's just witnessed "the strangest thing I've seen in a long time." The thing in question was Ferrari frantically juggling front wings on Ferrari Massa's car in the heat of a session. He describes Ferrari as rushing out for new noses and front wings. Does all sound a bit odd.

  86. 0324: 

    Sebastian Vettel is out and about doing a longer run. It's clear the hard tyres are dropping off pretty quickly. Last time around, Vettel clocks a time that is 3.4 seconds shy of his personal best. I've got an update of Jenson Button - the team have confirmed to BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow that it is indeed and oil leak and they have decided to end the session early to fix the problem and not hinder their preparations for second practice. There are even more mechanics working on the car now as they desperately try to stop that leak.

  87. 0319: 

    There's a bit of an issue at McLaren as Jenson Button's car is haemorrhaging oil. That would explain why we've not seen the championship leader for the last 15 minutes or so. "There are three mechanics under his car trying to mop it up," says BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow. "Jenson doesn't look too stressed about it but this is a problem for McLaren."

  88. 0316: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne is really struggling on those hard tyres. The Toro Rosso driver completely misses the apex at the final Turn 15 hairpin, the car sliding about all over the place. The Frenchman then outbrakes himself into Turn 1.

  89. 0313: 

    Michael Schumacher has jumped out of his car and is engrossed in the timing screens at the back of the Mercedes garage. Bit of an odd time to do that as there are only 17 minutes of the session remaining, but he's a seven-time world champion so I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

  90. 0309: 

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow has just told us that of all the drivers on the grid, Force India's Paul di Resta sweats the least. Not sure how she's found that out, but bravo. I do love a random fact.

  91. 0307: 

    Drivers starting tor eally struggle for grip on the hard compound tyres as Lewis Hamilton when his McLaren momentarily steps out. The 2008 world champ has it under control, though, and continues on his way. Michael Schumacher has just been told over the radio that the other drivers were losing the rear tyres after about 13 or 14 laps. This track is very hard on the tyres, thanks to its fast, high-energy corners, so expect rubber and strategy to play a big part in the race.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Lewis Hamilton did not trouble to hide his dissatisfaction with slipping from pole to finish third behind team-mate Jenson Button and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Australia, and he has explained since arriving in Malaysia why helooked so grumpy. 'The race didn't go as I wanted to,' he said, 'and I think it's fair to be disappointed, I don't think I should disguise that.' He explained that - as BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson suggested in his column on Monday - he had not quite got his set-up right. There was also a clutch problem that delayed him at the start and 'two or three other things that did not go right that were out of my control', including the timing of the safety car. But Hamilton is optimistic of a good showing in Malaysia: 'The car should be competitive here. I'm sure the Red Bulls will perhaps be more competitive, but we should still be in the fight. If the others pull their socks up, we'll pull ours up even higher.'"

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Everyone is struggling on the tyres already after 10 laps so degradation will be an issue this weekend as we expected. Even after just 10 laps the drivers are already a second off their best time."

  94. 0302: 

    The fastest time in first practice last year was 1:37.651 which is around 0.5 seconds quicker than pacesetter Lewis Hamilton has managed so far. There's still plenty of time to beat that time, though.


    From Max Mclean on Twitter: "If last season was one of under-performing re. Hamilton, Alonso and Massa, then this is the season of redemption. Lots of points to prove."

  96. 0300: 

    Huge lock up for Felipe Massa into the first corner and he's flatspotted the front right tyre. That's ruined that set of boots. Lewis Hamilton still out in front, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg. Vettel is back out track, but he's not going to challenge is personal best with this current lap.

  97. 0257: 

    Fernando Alonso crosses the line once more, but he can only improve by a tenth on those hard tyres. Maybe the Spaniard is planning a longer run - or at least that's what the fans will hope for, otherwise that's disappointing pace.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "The gap between the fastest man Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldanado in 12th is 1.8 seconds. This kind of gap was not happening in Melbourne so you can see how important the track is to gauging car performance. Friday practice is always important as you normally have a clear situation of where you are at the end of the session."

  99. 0255: 

    And with that mention of Fernando Alonso, the Spanish double world champion finally makes an appearance. The Ferrari driver crosses the timing beam in 1:40.0.91, two seconds shy of Lewis Hamilton but only 0.1 seconds off the pace of team-mate Felipe Massa. BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow says she asked the team why he took so long to get out on track to which the team replied: "We had things to do." The Scuderia are keeping their cards close to their chest.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "Marco Simoncelli [the MotoGP rider who was killed at Sepang last year] was such a character and many were saying he going to be the future of the sport. Many of the F1 drivers came to Turn 11 to pay tribute to him."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix is the first time Formula 1 drivers have raced at Sepang since the death of MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli in a crash at the track last year. The Italian has been much on people's minds. Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa went down to the crash scene, Turn 11, and posed for a photograph, holding up a pit board that read 'Sic (short for Simoncelli) sempre con noi', which means 'Forever with us', and included Ferrari's Prancing Horse emblem, an Italian flag, and his racing number, 58. And Red Bull's Mark Webber also spoke movingly of a man he called 'an incredible warrior', saying he would be thinking of him as he drove around that corner for the first time on Friday morning."

  102. 0250: 

    While the paddock continued to fill up on Thursday, drivers and teams made a poignant journey down to Turn 11 to pay their respects to Italian rider Marco Simoncelli who lost his life at that corner during the MotoGP race late last year. "After the accident of Marco last year racing here will be always sad, a little bit, knowing that one of our colleagues died here," said Fernando Alonso. "It will be always difficult to race."

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen

    On Paul di Resta's moment in Turn 12: "One of the features of last year was how brave the drivers were in the high-speed corners, and whether they're going to open the DRS."

  104. 0245: 

    So we're halfway through the session and Lewis Hamilton is still fastest, 0.5 seconds clear of Vettel who is a further two tenths ahead of Nico Rosberg. Michael Schumacher is 0.8 seconds behind in fourth ahead of Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen. Paul di Resta, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas - who is making his race weekend debut for Williams - complete the top 10.

  105. 0241: 

    More bad news for HRT as Narain Karthikeyan pulls off the track. The Indian driver takes his steering wheel out and pulls his gloves off. Dear, oh dear. The Spanish team failed to qualify both cars in Australia so this is hardly the ideal start. BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow informs us that it's a hydraulics issue. Well at least they know what the problem is...

    BBC F1 commentator Ben Edwards

    "We don't expect to see many changes to the cars. It's unlikely there will be big upgrade packages in just one week. They should be coming at the next race in Shanghai."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    On why Romain Grosjean has yet to set a time for Lotus:"A bit of a mechanical failure. It looked like the right rear wheel hadn't been fitted properly. So they're just about to put the wheel back on it and get him out there."

  108. 0238: 

    Sebastian Vettel is our new leader as he eclipses Lewis Hamilton's time by 0.063 seconds. The Red Bull driver was off the pace in qualifying in Melbourne, qualifying sixth, but recovered to finish second in the race. That lead doesn't last long, though, as Hamilton goes event faster. The McLaren driver lays down a marker with a 1:38.021, 0.5 seconds clear of the field. We've not seen Fernando Alonso yet. The Ferrari driver is one of four who have yet to set a time lap. More on why that is when we get it.

  109. 0235: 

    I've just spotted Didier Cotton, Lewis Hamilton's manager, gazing at the screens in the McLaren garage. That's the first time I've seen him this season. His charge is out on track and promptly goes quickest with a 1:38.598 - 0.2 seconds clear of Michael Schumacher. It's worth noting that Hamilton has never won at this track, something I'm sure he's keen to rectify.

  110. 0232: 

    Talking about Michael Schumacher, the German has put the misery of Australia behind him by sailing to the top of the times. The Mercedes driver is the first man into the 1m38s and goes 0.3 seconds clear of the field. Let's not forget Schumacher has started on pole five times here and won the race three times.


    Red Bull boss Christian Horner has been talking about the innovative - but controversial - DRS boost system that Mercedes are using this season: "If (FIA race director) Charlie (Whiting) has passed the car in scrutineering it's deemed to be in compliance with the rule. We wanted clarity before we went off and looked at the concept. We'll be having a look if there is a benefit for that system on our car as I'm sure other teams will be doing." When asked by the BBC's pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow if it could be adopted only to be banned at the end of the season, Horner answered: "I'd put a large wager on that happening."

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen

    "Michael Schumacher has seven stars on his cap - a little reminder he is seven times world champion. I'm standing in front of his car looking at the intricacy of this front and rear wing so many have been talking about. Mercedes say it's worth only a few tenths, so there's a big question over whether it's worth developing for the other teams."

  113. 0230: 

    Plenty of chat about Mercedes' controversial rear wing which was given the all clear by the FIA on Thursday. The clever system ducts air from the rear to the front of the car to boost straight-line speed and operates in conjunction with the DRS overtaking aid, which most teams understood to be limited to operation on the rear wing. With Sepang boasting two long straights, the team should benefit from a straight-line speed advantage here.

    BBC Radio 5 live commentator James Allen

    "Tyre life is critical here. Last year, drivers got caught out because they hadn't saved new tyres from qualifying. Also cloud cover makes a difference - the track gets hot very quickly, and it's noticable how ground temperature drops and how it affects the life of the tyres. There's an advantage to be had there."

  115. 0228: 

    Kimi Raikkonen, who has been struggling with steering problems on his Lotus, is our new leader, eclipsing Jenson Button's time by 0.2 seconds. Felipe Massa pops into third but is 0.776 seconds shy of the McLaren. It's a big weekend for the Brazilian whose future has been a talking point this weekend. More on that later.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "I\u2019ve been analysing the lap times from the Australian Grand Prix and one thing in particular stands out. If you disregard lap one, from lap two to the end of the race, Sebastian Vettel was actually faster than Jenson Button. It was only the time he lost at the start that cost him. It's very difficult to draw any definitive conclusions from that, not least because the safety car will have had something to do with it. But I'm sure McLaren will have noticed."

  117. 0225: 

    That's more like it. Jenson Button clocks a 1:39.323 to go fastest of all, 3.5 seconds clear of Sergio Perez's Sauber and 4.2 seconds ahead of Timo Glock. Just six timed laps on the board with a third of the session gone.

  118. 0222: 

    Australian Grand Prix winner and our championship leader Jenson Button is out on track and has just crossed the line to start a flying lap. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, is content to stay in the garage. The 2008 world champion is currently standing in front of a massive fan chatting to an engineer. This is one of the hottest and most humid races on the calendar, so expect to see the drivers doing everything to keep cool.

    BBC Radio 5 live pit-lane reporter Jennie Gow

    "McLaren have a little [bodywork] upgrade since last time out. They have changed the cooling, and have added three little winglets, which should help to cool things down."

  120. 0218: 

    We have a time, folks - though it's nothing to shout about really. Paul di Resta laps the 5.543km track in 2:04.524s. The Marussia of Timo Glock smashes through that time with a 1:43.487, but we're still a long way off some really competitive times.


    Caterham chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: "Rain risk for FP2 increasing rapidly so teams may bring their run programs for so expect some more running this morning than normal."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Lowly HRT had a baptism offire in Australia, failing to qualify either car for the race, not surprisingly given it had only run for 40km before heading out on track in Melbourne. But veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa is confident they will have a better weekend in Malaysia. 'We arrive here better prepared,' the Spaniard said. 'The whole team has had one more week to prepare the cars, more parts have arrived like the DRS (overtaking aid). We need to do more laps, and know a little bit more what the car needs to go faster. We don't know exactly how quick the car is. We could be surprised. How we started in Australia there were many handicaps, but we arrive here better prepared so I am expecting better things.'"

  123. 0212: 

    Still no timed laps to report on I'm afraid, the teams instead choosing to keep us waiting that little bit longer. Everyone, including the HRTs, has completed an installation lap, though, so we should be too far away...


    Red Bull boss Christian Horner: "It's one of the toughest races on the calendar, and a demanding track on the car and driver. The McLarens were very strong in Melbourne but this is a different circuit and we're hoping we can have a cleaner run here. We have plenty of work to do particularly today."


    From BBC F1's chief writer Andrew Benson on Twitter: "Will be fascinating to see Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas in FP1 - team rate him extremely highly."

  126. 0208: 

    I should mention that you won't hear anything about Bruno Senna during this first session as he has vacated the car to allow Williams's test driver Valtteri Bottas to get a taste of the action...

  127. 0205: 

    Jenson Button has taken his McLaren out for a spin on the hard compound tyres. No time set, mind, as the focus is on installation laps and making sure the car is running as it should be after the journey over from Australia. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Mark Webber have also made their maiden tours.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Once you arrive in Malaysia you need to drink a lot of water and mineral salts. When you have been in the car for just one hour you lose three litres of water. The high temperatures make it crucial for the drivers to deal with the tyres as the high temperatures and high loads make it abrasive for the tyres."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Much is made of the testing conditions in Malaysia, with the intense heat and humidity making this one of the toughest races on the calendar for the drivers. But part of the challenge is also the track itself - which would be challenging even without the climatic conditions. Most of the drivers greatly enjoy its testing combination of fast and sweeping corners. 'It's old school,' said Mark Webber - a major compliment for a man who loves Spa and Suzuka about a track that was only completed in 1999. 'A real good classic track, one of the best (F1's resident architect Hermann) Tilke has done. He's tried to get a bit too fancy more recently. (It's a) tricky lap to put together and then you have the complications of the heat in the car.'"

  130. 0200: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Jean-Eric Vergne in his Toro Rosso leads a gaggle of cars out of the pit-lane as first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix gets under way at an overcast Sepang International Circuit.

  131. 0158: 

    Michael Schumacher has described his Melbourne retirement as a "one-off" while Fernando Alonso says his Ferrari team must stay calm following their disappointing start to the season. Can these two legends of the sport reclaim their former glories? Or has their time been and gone? You tell me. Tweet me via @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text in on 81111 (UK) remembering to put your name on it.

  132. 0155: 

    With just five minutes to go until practice, live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra is under way with Ben Edwards and Jaime Alguersuari in the box and James Allen and Jennie Gow in the pits. You can listen to that on the wireless or on this very website.

  133. 0150: 

    Now to business. Friday sees two 90 minute practice sessions - the first beginning at 0200 GMT and the second at 0600 GMT - for the teams to refine the set-up on their cars for this demanding 5.543km track and gain valuable information on the medium and hard compound Pirelli tyres which are available this weekend. Saturday sees a further hour of practice followed by qualifying before we get to the 56-lap race on Sunday.


    Marussia driver Charles Pic on Twitter: "Hello everyone. Looking forward to FP1 & 2 today. V hot now but maybe not dry the whole day?"


    Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen on Twitter: "Back to full fitness just in time, 1st practice about to start, setup and tyre work in program today. Little rain risk around."


    BBC 5 live breakfast weather presenter Simon King: "While the storm clouds will develop throughout the day, the chances are that it'll stay dry for both practice sessions with just a low risk of a shower. The air temperature will be around 33 degrees celsius but the track temperature will be in the high 40s."

    BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "The weather is always a talking point here in Malaysia, partly because of the intense heat and humidity, but also because of what that leads to - regular, tropicaldownpours. On Thursday it rained heavily on and off between 1200 and 1530 local time. The BBC team only arrived here from Melbourne on Wednesday but apparently that has been the pattern throughout the last few days. If that continues, it wouldn't actually rain during qualifying and the race, which both start at 1600 local. But it would certainly affect practice on Friday."

  138. 0145: 

    If that wasn't enough to get your engines revving, we have the prospect of rain in this hot and sticky corner of Southeast Asia. And when I say rain, I don't mean a little drizzle but rather a downpour of biblical proportions. A glance at the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix highlights will show you how a freak rain shower can cause absolute carnage.


    Jenson Button on Twitter: "Good morning from Sepang circuit, getting ready for FP1. Let's see who has got the pace!!"

  140. 0140: 

    A beaten Sebastian Vettel, though, is a man scorned so Jenson Button will be bracing himself for a backlash. What's more, his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton will be smarting after failing to convert pole position into victory in Melbourne while Michael Schumacher looked a man reborn in the new Mercedes before a faulty gearbox let him down. The seven-time world champion could well be the dark horse if his Silver Arrow makes the most of its top speed advantage on Sepang's long straights.

  141. 0135: 

    What did we learn from the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday? Well that Sebastian Vettel can be beaten, of course. Jenson Button showed how things get better with age as he dominated the race to assume the championship lead. That's the first time we've had someone other than Vettel grace the top of the standings since Abu Dhabi in November 2010 and the first time our Jense has made it there since May 2010. I do love a fast fact or two.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Just five days after Jenson Button produced a crushing victory in the opening race of the season in lovely autumnal Melbourne sunshine, the Formula 1 drivers will head out this morning in Malaysia into a very different set of conditions. Baking heat and sapping humidity are the order of the day at Sepang. It's one of the toughest races of the year for the drivers. 'Each year you come back you just can't imagine how people can live here all year,' said Force India's Paul di Resta. 'It's cruel. But you very quickly acclimatise yourself to it. I've been out running. What you would normally (achieve in a) run for an hour and a half, you've done it in 45 minutes. It's just about acclimatising your system to it. This is the true test of how fit you are.'"

  143. 0130: 

    Hello, I knew you'd be back. My plan to stay on Australian/Malaysian time proved futile as I crashed and burned on the sofa on Sunday night watching the race highlights before waking up 15 hours later. Ah well, what matters is that I'm here now to guide you through what is shaping up to be an absolute belter of a weekend\u2026

Share this story

Formula 1 World Championship 2014

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 241
2 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 238
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 181
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari 133
5 Germany S Vettel Red Bull 124
6 Finland V Bottas Williams 122
7 Great Britain J Button McLaren 72
8 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 72
9 Brazil F Massa Williams 65
10 Mexico S Perez Force India 45
11 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 45
12 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren 39
13 France J Vergne Toro Rosso 19
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 8
15 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso 8
16 France J Bianchi Marussia 2
17 Germany A Sutil Sauber 0
18 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham 0
19 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
20 Mexico E Gutierrez Sauber 0
21 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia 0
22 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham 0


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham