Bridgestone's soft tyre helped Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace with a 1min 34.175secs lap time as the Malaysian Grand Prix got underway in hot and humid conditions at Sepang.
Hamilton set his time in the afternoon practice session, leaving him fastest
from Red Bull racing driver Sebastian Vettel, who used the same tyre for his fastest lap. Hamilton was also fastest in the morning practice session, using the hard compound Bridgestone Potenza to set a time of 1min 34.921secs.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
What was significant about today's running?
"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."
How do you expect this allocation to work 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."