Lewis Hamilton was in fine form kicking off his season by going fastest in first practice for the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton was over half a second faster than new Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
The two set their best lap on the fastest time on the ultrasofts with a time which was already over a second faster than the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. The brit was already over the fastest time which he set last year in the session.
The Red Bull’s set their best laps on the slower supersoft tyres with Ricciardo four tenths ahead of Verstappen. However, there could be more to come, as the Australian set the fastest lap on the slower supersofts.
Red Bull has brought a heavily revised car from what we saw in testing, as expected. Also, engine partner Renault, have fixed the issues which affected the team in testing.
The Ferrari’s were not far behind the Mercedes either with Sebastian Vettel within a second of the front runners. While Kimi Raikkonen was just over a second down, both had used the supersoft rather than the Ultra.
Ferrari was being talked up to being the second fastest team following testing where they showed strong performance. However, the gap to Red Bull was almost half a second.
Felipe Massa showed his shortest retirement in history hadn’t meant he had lost speed, he put his Williams into seventh ahead of Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Renaults Nico Hulkenberg. While the first outing in pink for Force India rounded out the top ten.
Carlos Sainz edged out Toro Rosso team-mate Daniil Kyvat for eleventh fastest with Williams’s Lance Stroll just behind.
McLaren’s troubles hadn’t vanished, but there were signs of improvement with Fernando Alonso fourteenth, albeit almost 2.9 seconds off the pace. While team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 20th and last after a problem affected session.
But, they will take some positivity from that as they got through the session without technical problems.