FORMULA 1’s second practice in Malaysia was halted early after a high-speed crash for Romain Grosjean, caused by a loose drain cover. The Haas driver was on a flying lap with just over 20 minutes left in the session when he turned into the fast Turn 13 at the Sepang circuit, hitting the loose drain cover with his right rear wheel. The impact instantly punctured the tyre, sending Grosjean spinning into the barriers. The Frenchman was unhurt in the incident but his car was badly damaged.
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“I didn’t see anything. I was just on the racing line and then suddenly I had a big hit on my rear right,” Grosjean said. “Next thing I know the tyre wasn’t there any more and I was spinning and heading for the wall.
“Hopefully the drain cover stays in place tomorrow!”
Replays showed that the drain was initially dislodged by both Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, with Grosjean’s Haas the next car on the scene. Race officials instantly red-flagged the session while they inspected the circuit, soon electing to cancel the remainder of the session.
Ferrari had been at the top of the time sheets when the red flags came out, Sebastian Vettel heading the order with a 1m31.261s lap to gaining an early advantage while his chief title rival struggled. Lewis Hamilton could manage no better that sixth; the current points leader’s Mercedes 1.4 seconds adrift of the Ferrari. Mercedes flagging pace was against the expected form guide, a spin from Hamilton highlighting how hard he was pushing.
Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest behind his Ferrari teammate, while Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest in third for Red Bull ahead of Max Verstappen, while Fernando Alonso bested both the Mercedes to be an impressive fifth fastest. The session was completed in entirely dry conditions after heavy rain blighted the opening running.