Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (SportsNetwork.com) - Formula One is set to run its second grand prix of the season this weekend in Malaysia, where teams are dealing with extreme heat and humidity.
Two-time and defending F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton won the season-opener two weeks ago in Melbourne, Australia, but Hamilton had a frustrating start to his weekend of the Malaysian Grand Prix when he experienced engine problems with his Mercedes during Friday's first of two practice sessions.
After completing only four laps around Sepang International Circuit in the early going of P1, Hamilton came to a stop on track and radioed to his team that he had lost power. He missed the remainder of P1, as his team feverishly worked to resolve the engine issue.
Hamilton returned on track halfway through P2 and ended up topping the time charts in that session with a lap in one minute, 39.790 seconds. But he encountered more problems with his car when he lost telemetry.
"On Lewis' car, we had a failure of the inlet system on the power unit," said Paddy Lowe, the executive director (technical) at Mercedes AMG Petronas. "We also had a problem with the telemetry on his car that wasn't solved until just before the end of P2. This made managing the issue on his car doubly difficult."
Hamilton completed just 16 laps in P2. He is the defending race and pole winner of the Malaysian GP.
"It was an amazing job by the guys to get me back out this afternoon, particularly here in such tough conditions, so I'm very grateful to them," Hamilton said. "It's not an easy track, and the temperatures also make it difficult with the tires. So it never helps to lose such a big chunk of a session. But fortunately, I got a few laps in at the end on a longer stint."
Nico Rosberg, who is Hamilton's teammate and championship rival, led the way in P1 with a lap in 1:40.124. Rosberg was third quickest in P2. Kimi Raikkonen from Ferrari placed second in each of the two sessions.
"I had a good morning session, but I didn't get it right with the option tires in the afternoon, so I need to find out why that was," Rosberg said. "The conditions are really crazy out there. It's so hot. The temperatures are really unbelievable. So us drivers and the cars have to adapt to that which is a big challenge. We also learned that Ferrari is strong again, so it will be an interesting weekend."
Raikkonen was just 0.373 seconds behind Rosberg in P1. It was the same time gap between Hamilton and Raikkonen in P2.
"We did all we were supposed to do today," Raikkonen said. "In the morning, the feeling with the car was better, and in the afternoon, it was a bit more tricky. We had some handling issues and some problems with the wind and the heat, but the lap times were not so bad. The car is still not perfect, but I'm sure we can improve for (Saturday's final practice session and qualifying)."
Raikkonen's new teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion and three-time Malaysian GP winner, was third in P1 and seventh in P2.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, a three-time winner of this race as well, and Valtteri Bottas from Williams have both been medically cleared by the FIA to compete in Sunday's 56-lap event in Malaysia after missing the Australian GP.
Alonso suffered a concussion during an accident in preseason testing on Feb. 22 in Barcelona. Kevin Magnussen, the test and reserve driver for McLaren, took Alonso's place in Australia.
"It feels great to be back in the car," Alonso said. "I enjoyed driving so much today. Maybe I'm not quite 100 percent fit after two weeks on the sofa and two weeks out of the car, but I'm fit enough to enjoy it out there."
Bottas suffered a back injury during qualifying for the Australian GP, which sidelined him for the race.
"The changes that we have made to my driving position have been positive, and it was nice to be able to drive without any pain," Bottas said. "I am confident for the rest of the weekend that I won't be troubled by my back."
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, March 29. Race: Malaysian Grand Prix. Site: Sepang International Circuit. Track: 3.444-mile (5.543-kilometer), 15-turn road course. Start Time: 3 a.m. ET. Laps: 56. Miles: 192.887 (310.408 km). 2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Television: NBC Sports Network.