Hamilton abuzz after dominating practice, Ferrari struggle | Sports , Motor Sports

16 March, 2019, 02:57 | Author: Greg Lawrence
  • Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton made a mockery of his claim that Ferrari would be half-a-second quicker at the Australian Grand Prix by easily clocking the fastest times in the season's opening practice runs Friday.

The Briton edged team mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.048 seconds but had a yawning 0.800 seconds gap to the Red Bull of third fastest Max Verstappen, with Vettel further adrift with the fifth quickest time.

Charles LeClerc, the second youngest driver for Ferrari in history, was only just a brush off the top spot, lapping +0.074 behind Hamilton.

Just hours after making the comment in Spain, Hamilton went out and posted a best time within 0.010s of Vettel's best, while this morning both Mercedes were over 0.8s clear of the Ferrari.

The man Leclerc replaced, Finnish former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, pushed his Alfa Romeo - formerly Sauber - into sixth.

Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton said it was "not hard to read" Mercedes' testing form, and insisted the team wasn't playing mind games with its pre-season estimations.

Hamilton, whose first win of last season came in Azerbaijan in round four, said he did not feel as if he needed to grab the new campaign by the scruff of the neck.

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"When we get to Q2 and they start to crank the engines up, that's when the story will start to unfold of where are Honda". Are the red cars keeping something in reserve for qualifying and the race?

The Formula 1 season has begun again, with faster cars, new rules, and new line-ups.

"It was a tricky day for us - it was probably a tricky day for everyone". Hulkenberg spent more than an hour of his morning session with his auto on jacks in the garage with an electronics issue, while new teammate Ricciardo lost nearly 30 minutes of his afternoon to a technical problem before taking to the track, though both ended up in the mix at the head of the midfield as expected by the end of the day. "We had some consistent running in Free Practice 2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run", he explained.

The German won the opening race of the season in Melbourne a year ago and backed it up with victory at the next in Bahrain.

British-born Thai debutant Alexander Albon had a tough day, crashing his Toro Rosso to lose his front wing and cause a brief halt in the first session.

FIA chief Jean Todt held a minute's silence to mark his passing in a press conference, with deputy race director Michael Masi fulfilling Whiting's duties in Melbourne.

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