Hamilton finds groove in Malaysia practice
By Abhishek Takle
SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton outpaced his championship-leading Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday, the Briton topping the timesheets with the fastest lap of the day.
The defending Formula One champion finished behind Rosberg in the morning but found his groove around a resurfaced Sepang circuit in the afternoon to set a benchmark time of one minute, 34.944 seconds. Hamilton trails Rosberg by eight points after the German won the last race in Singapore but his prospects of striking back with a 50th career win were lifted by an improved performance in practice following a disappointing Friday a fortnight ago.
Rosberg, who led his team mate by a comfortable margin in the morning, ended the day with a time 0.233 seconds slower than the Briton with the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing third and fourth respectively.
The duo were closer to the dominant Mercedes in the afternoon but still more than half a second adrift as they swapped positions from first practise when the 2007 world champion edged out last year's race winner.
Max Verstappen celebrated his 19th birthday by improving from seventh to fifth for Red Bull, as Sergio Perez came sixth ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who ended a promising day of running with Honda's upgraded power unit in seventh.
The Spaniard is set to start the race at the back of the grid after being hit with a 30-place engine-related penalty for running a new power unit but the modifications appeared to help as he had been fifth in the morning.
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