F1 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix: Hamilton quickest in Sepang practice

PUBLISHED: 12:20 30 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:20 02 October 2016

Lewis Hamilton on track in practice for the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz / Daimler AG]

Lewis Hamilton on track in practice for the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz / Daimler AG]

Daimler AG

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set the practice pace at the Sepang International Circuit on the first day of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.

The 31-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire clocked the fastest time of the day in the afternoon, with a lap of 1m 34.944s.

Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg topped the morning session in Sepang near Kuala Lumpur, with Lewis Hamilton P2 on the timesheets.

Hamilton then set the quickest time of the day in the afternoon session, with Rosberg the second fastest with a 1m 35.177s.

Both Mercedes drivers ran the Medium and Soft compound tyre in the morning session, and then the Hard, Medium and Soft in the afternoon session on a scorching day.

Three-time world F1 champion Hamilton said: “That was a good day today. No issues to report and we got through our run plans in both sessions.

“There’s a lot of data to analyse tonight to make sure we have a good understanding of the tyres and of our position relative to the others.

“Overall a good building block for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend.”

Hamilton added: “A big shout-out to the fans out here today. I saw them waving across in the stands at the end of FP2 and they’ve all got banners and caps showing their support, which is great to see.”

Lewis Hamilton driving in practice ahead of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz / Daimler AG]Lewis Hamilton driving in practice ahead of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz / Daimler AG]

World championship leader Rosberg said: “The new track surface is really enjoyable to drive. Challenging, but with good grip.

“It’s tough to get the setup right with such an unknown element as new tarmac, but we’re on the right track.

“Turn 15 is interesting, as you can now try several different lines if you’re attacking the guy in front, so that will be good for overtaking.

“Looking at the race, even the soft tyre held on pretty well out there, so we don’t expect any big surprises.

“Strategy-wise we have to run the hard compound, of course, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward. I’m looking forward now to qualifying.”

Paddy Lowe, the team’s executive director, said: “Very hot conditions here today. We’ve been doing our normal race preparation.

“The strategy is completely open for Sunday between the soft, medium and hard tyres, so we evaluated all three compounds across both cars on high fuel and low fuel.

“Both drivers were reasonably happy with the balance of the car. No issues save a bit of gravel clearing on Nico’s car after his minor excursion this morning.

“A lot of data to analyse tonight to see where we are competitively and decide what’s the best way to run the race. Now we look forward to qualifying tomorrow.”

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