Formula One: Mercedes Set the Pace as Red Bull and Ferrari Play Catch-Up at Australian GP
By Shruthi SU | March 14, 2014 7:44 PM EST
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton came back strong in the second practice with the fastest lap of 1m 29.625s at the Australian Grand Prix after suffering a disappointing first session in Melbourne on Friday.
The Mercedes drivers justified why they are the favourites at the start of the season at Albert Park as Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg came second with 1m 29.782s.
Fernando Alonso, who finished fastest in the first practice, came third for Ferrari with 1m 30.132s while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was fourth on 1m 30.381s. Alonso's teammate Kimi Raikkonen did not enjoy a great outing however, with car issues slowing the Fin down.
The only problems came with Caterham and Lotus staying for a prolonged period in the pits, otherwise the new turbocharged hybrid engines did well enough for the teams to build on in the qualifying. However, the double world champion Mika Hakkinen raised concern over the opening season for Red Bull which had a dismal winter testing.
"You saw in the testing they weren't able to do enough running," Hakkinen said after preseason tests. "They haven't really got a result to the level that they want. In Melbourne, I still think they are very far away.
"They are probably a couple of months behind the others, so it will take time for them to reach performance they need."
Mercedes, who started as favourites from the preseason tests with good mileage and pace, struggled in the first practice with Hamilton not even finishing a single lap.
"It definitely was a shock because every lap is so important to collect data from the race track," Hakkinen said of the incident. "The regulations have changed so dramatically that the teams are having a massive challenge at the moment. There are only a few teams who are really in a stable situation."
Hamilton, however, did bounce back well enough, with his times during P2 showing he will be the man to beat during qualifying at the race on Sunday.
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