Hamilton leads, Rosberg crashes in second Australian GP practice

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Lewis Hamilton continued to lead the way for Mercedes AMG Petronas in practice for the Australian Grand Prix by topping the second session on Friday evening in Melbourne.

Just as in FP1, FP2 was blighted by changing weather conditions throughout the session, starting in the damp after rain fell during the afternoon.

Although the track did dry to some extent in the session, it never become clear enough to allow for slick running.

A late shower forced drivers stop remain on the intermediate tire, sending them into Saturday with very little dry running completed.

Hamilton managed to lead the way once again for Mercedes, making the most of the drier conditions on the intermediate tire to post a lap time of 1:38.841, handing him P1 for the second session in a row.

It proved to be a practice to forget for Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. The German driver lost control of his car under acceleration at Turn 5, spearing into the wall and breaking the new front wing on his car that had only been attached to his car ahead of FP2.

Rosberg tried to return to the pits, but was forced to stop at the side of the track following a request by the FIA, leaving him 15th come the end of the session and with plenty of track time to make up on Saturday.

Nico Hulkenberg continued Force India’s strong start to the race weekend by finishing second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. After failing to set a time in FP1, Sebastian Vettel managed to get out on track in the second Ferrari, but ultimately finished eighth-fastest.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the session fourth for Red Bull, leading Toro Rosso youngster Carlos Sainz Jr. After leading early on, Fernando Alonso eventually faded to P6 ahead of teammate Jenson Button. Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10.

Once again, Haas enjoyed a quiet but solid session as Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean continued to get to grips with the VF-16 car. Gutierrez finished the session 11th, while Grosjean split the Manor duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto in 13th.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.