Hamilton quickest in practice

Hamilton quickest in practice

The 2008 champion had his street car impounded by Melbourne police days before an ill-advised pitstop ruined his Australian Grand Prix last Sunday but the Briton was back on form in Sepang, clocking a fastest time of one minute 34.175 in his McLaren.

Sebastian Vettel showed the pace that has taken his Red Bull to two poles in as many races by lapping just 0.266 seconds behind Hamilton after a subdued morning practice but his team-mate Mark Webber's session was cut short by an engine problem.

Ferrari opted to use both sessions to test out various tyre and fuel combinations and finished well off the pace but Mercedes enjoyed a solid showing with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher matching the pace set by McLaren and Red Bull.

Hamilton dominated both sessions and topped the timesheets throughout most of the day but remained cautious ahead of Saturday's qualifying.

Team-mate Button won a rain-shortened race for Brawn GP a year ago and although he could not match Hamilton on Friday, his third and fourth fastest times over both sessions suggest he could follow up last week's victory with a strong performance.

Top 10 for Sutil
Meanwhile, Force India driver Adrian Sutil was seventh in the first practice session before he returned to clock the 10th fastest time in the afternoon.

Sutil clocked one minute 35.955 seconds in the first practice session for the seventh place in the timesheet and registered 1:35.957 in the afternoon to finish 10th. His team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi, who skipped the morning session, finished 12th the evening clocking 1:36.221secs. Karun Chandhok completed 24 laps in the morning session, for a best lap time of 1.41.966, and managed another 27 in the afternoon.