Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Hamilton dominant on Friday in Melbourne

Hamilton dominant on Friday in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton suggested that Mercedes' eye-catching performance in Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix was not a major improvement on their running during pre-season testing in Barcelona - putting an eight-tenths advantage to their rivals Red Bull and Ferrari into some context.

Vettel was not far off the pace of the Red Bulls in the second session but he slid through the grass and complained of handling problems on the team radio.

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

Soon after that, however, the Silver Arrows unleashed more pace, and Hamilton ended the test just 0.003s slower than pace-setter Sebastian Vettel.

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

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton drives during the first Formula One practice session in Melbourne on Friday, ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix.

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Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were seventh and eighth, closely matched after the Australian had a tricky day with a number of delays, first due to a technical problem and then the need to adjust his seat to reduce discomfort in the auto.

Vettel later bolted on softs and put in a lap of 1m23.473s to go fifth fastest, subsequently describing the vehicle as "still a bit wobbly" over the radio. "So, in the end we're racing for Ferrari and that means we try to get Ferrari back to where we've been trying to get it back to for the last couple of years".

"We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we're getting there". The forecast is for warmer conditions for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.

Ahead of qualifying this afternoon Wide World of Sports looks at the big issues raised by the first two practice sessions.

"It was a tricky day for us". So for Raikkonen to be that close in a vehicle that will undoubtedly be slower only emphasised the point that Ferrari can find plenty more time. "We didn't really get into the groove and the rhythm".

Toro Rosso new boy Alexander Albon had a troubled introduction to Formula One, losing his front wing in a crash at turn two in the first practice. This year also sees a number of new drivers at numerous teams, which makes this first race in Australia all the more interesting. He reiterated that Mercedes had plenty of "work to do" in Thursday's media conference.

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