Nico Rosberg has continued his perfect start to the 2015 Formula 1 season by finishing as the fastest driver in second practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday evening.
The German driver had topped the first practice session of the year at Albert Park earlier on Friday, and managed to double up in FP2 by edging out teammate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets once again.
Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:27.697 on the soft compound tire, beating Hamilton by one-tenth of a second as Mercedes eased to a one-two finish yet again.
However, the Silver Arrows’ advantage did diminish from FP1, with Ferrari looking far stronger on the soft tire as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished third and fourth for the Italian marque. Vettel may have finished a distant 0.7 seconds behind Rosberg at the top, but definite progress appears to have been made at Maranello over the winter.
After sitting out the first session on Friday amid its legal wrangling with ex-reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, Sauber finally hit the track in FP2 with Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson both completing laps. Nasr enjoyed a good Friday to finish 11th, but the same could not be said of Ericsson, whose running was curtailed following a suspension failure.
McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen also hit trouble on Friday evening, making a mistake at turn six to put his MP4-30 in the wall and warrant the first red flag period of the season. Magnussen was uninjured, and confirmed on Twitter that the accident was due to driver error.
The crash was my mistake. Just lost the rear on the entry and unfortunately hit the wall and damaged the left front. Another day tomorrow!
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) March 13, 2015
Once again, Manor failed to get its cars out on track during FP2, with Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens being sidelined as the team continues to find its feet after a turbulent winter. Daniel Ricciardo and Felipe Massa were also unable to get out on track due to problems with their power units, whilst Jenson Button suffered a loss of power in the final ten minutes of the day for McLaren.
Although it may be difficult to make any firm assumptions at this early stage, Mercedes certainly appears to be dominating proceedings once again in Melbourne, setting the stage for an almighty intra-team scrap between Rosberg and Hamilton for supremacy this weekend.
Be sure to join us on Saturday for the final free practice session and qualifying, with our full broadcasting schedule viewable here.