Photo: William West Agence France-Presse
Lewis Hamilton (in photo) dominated the first session, ahead of the two Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and he has done even better in the afternoon.
The five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has picked up where it left off last season and his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, has been imitated, while the pilots Mercedes has set the fastest time of free practice on Friday in preparation for the Australian Grand Prix of Formula 1.
Ferrari seemed to have the fastest cars at the winter test, but it was Hamilton who set the best lap of 1 min 22,600 s during the first two free practice sessions at the circuit of Albert Park in preparation for the first race of the season in the world Championship of Formula 1.
Hamilton dominated the first practice session, ahead of the two Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, and he has done even better in the afternoon.
He was ahead of Bottas of 48 thousandths of a second, but Mercedes has offered an advance of eight-tenths on the rest of the pack to offer an impressive beginning. The team aims for a sixth title in a row constructors in 2019.
“I’ve seen a lot of positive to this car today, was looking at Hamilton. The car is apparently where it was in Barcelona, which is positive here, on a different track.
“There’s a lot of stuff to improve, but this was not a bad start. But the fact is that we turned up with two cars without fault and they are in one piece, and that counts a lot. “
Ferrari has not been able to keep up the pace during the second session. Vettel, the double champion title in Australia, has settled for the fifth place and Leclerc has been the victim of an off-track after losing control with just a few minutes. It ranked ninth.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, rose from fourth to third place in the afternoon, at 0.08 second, and his new team-mate Pierre Gasly took the fourth rank.
“There are always things to improve and we are not yet fast enough, but this is only the first day of the season and it is long, said Verstappen. It seems that Mercedes is very fast and a little more satisfied with the overall balance of the car.
“We had no waiting today and it is simply good to start. “
The veteran Kimi Räikkönen, 39-year-old, has recorded the sixth time in his first start with Alfa Romeo since his departure from Ferrari, followed by the two Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.
In his debut with the team Racing Point, Lance Stroll is ranked 13th with a decline of almost a second and a half.
“It is difficult to draw too many conclusions of today’s sessions, said the canadian driver. We have made a lot of tests to better understand the new elements of aerodynamics, but it was pretty windy and it always makes things a little more difficult.
“This is only the beginning, but it is very tight in the middle of the pack. Every tenth of a second is going to be important in qualifying. Overall, the car behaves well. We need to make some adjustments and I think we can join the battle. “
Tribute to Whiting
Hamilton and Vettel have finished first and second in the drivers ‘ championship last season. Hamilton dominated the second half of the season and finished with 11 victories in 21 Grands Prix. For Hamilton, at least, everything seems to work normally.
He won the pole position last year in Melbourne, but has finished behind Vettel in the race, a result he is determined to reverse this year.
Robert Kubica, who made his return in F1 eight years after being partially severed right hand in an accident in rally, finished 19th and 20th in the two sessions while Williams will continue to occupy the last two places in the ranking.
The first session was conducted by a cool and clear with a temperature of 21 °C and the temperature is a little warmer in the afternoon. The forecast announce the warmer weather for qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Between the two sessions, the president of the FIA, Jean Todt, president of Formula 1, Chase Carey, attended a press conference which began with a minute of silence in memory of race director Charlie Whiting, who died in Melbourne on Thursday morning died of a pulmonary embolism.
It was the first time that Todt and Carey, who arrived in the discipline by 2017, attended the same press conference, at a Great Price. Todt was visibly moved by asking those present to observe a minute of silence.
The death of Whiting, very appreciated in the middle, has upset the drivers and the entire community of the race car. The director-general of the F1, Ross Brawn, and the director of the team Ferrari, Mattia Binotto, were among the friends and colleagues who were wearing black arm-bands as a sign of respect for Whiting.
The FIA has revealed that Michael Masi would assume the roles of race director, chief safety officer and responsible for the start of the Australian Grand Prix.