By Alex Kapadia
Delighted Lewis Hamilton set the pace during the first day of practice ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Bridgestone’s soft tyres.
The conditions were hot and humid at Sepang, but the McLaren driver set the fastest lap of the day this afternoon on soft tyres.
He had also been quickest in the morning practice session using the hard compound.
Hirohide Hamashima, director of motorsport tyre development for Bridgestone, said: “Today was interesting as we saw some very fast lap times and there were many laps from drivers so there is a lot of data to analyse.
“It was also interesting as we had a heavy rain shower shortly after the second session, which reinforces the variability of the weather here in Malaysia.
“The track conditions seem good here today for the first day of running. Drivers were pushing hard, as shown by the lap times, and we did see understeer progressing to oversteer as a general trend.
“Graining was experienced on both front and rear tyres so there are many factors of tyre management to be considered.”
He said the weather should affect the tyre allocations over the weekend. “The hot temperatures should mean that there is a clear difference in durability between the two compounds, however the best lap times should be quite close because the heat assists the warm-up of the higher temperature range hard tyre.
“This will make strategy considerations interesting, and we could see some variety in the tyre used by the Q3 runners tomorrow.
“The weather, of course, cannot be underestimated, and the soft tyre is a good option if the track is dry, but it looks like rain is not far off.
“We saw the performance of the intermediate tyre in Melbourne, however the rain here is frequently very severe so the wet tyre could be used.
“As we saw last year, there can even be too much rain for the race to run, so we will all be looking closely at the skies.”