Hamil­ton finds his groove, Alonso in­curs grid penalty

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

LEWIS HAMIL­TON out­paced his cham­pi­onship- lead­ing Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg in prac­tice for the Malaysian Grand Prix yes­ter­day, the Bri­ton top­ping the timesheets with the fastest lap of the day.

The de­fend­ing F1 cham­pion fin­ished be­hind Ros­berg in the morn­ing, but found his groove around a resur­faced Sepang cir­cuit in the af­ter­noon to set a bench­mark time of one minute, 34.944 sec­onds.

Hamil­ton trails Ros­berg by eight points after the Ger­man won the last race in Sin­ga­pore, but his prospects of strik­ing back with a 50th ca­reer win were lifted by an im­proved per­for­mance in prac­tice fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing Fri­day a fort­night ago.

Ros­berg, who led his team­mate by a com­fort­able margin in the morn­ing, ended the day with a time 0.233 sec­onds slower than the Bri­ton. The Fer­rari pair of Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen fin­ished third and fourth re­spec­tively.

The duo were closer to the dom­i­nant Mercedes in the af­ter­noon, but still more than half a sec­ond adrift as they swapped po­si­tions from first prac­tice when the 2007 world cham­pion edged out last year’s race win­ner.

Max Ver­stap­pen cel­e­brated his 19th birth­day by im­prov­ing from sev­enth to fifth for Red Bull, as Ser­gio Perez came sixth ahead of McLaren’s Fer­nando Alonso in sev­enth.

How­ever, the Spa­niard is set to start the race at the back of the grid after be­ing hit with a 30-place en­gine-re­lated penalty for run­ning a new power unit. – Reuters

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