Lewis Hamilton continued his strong start to the season after edging out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second practice for this weekends Australian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver failed to improve on his fastest FP1 Time, however, remained ahead by one-tenth over Verstappen.
The Dutchman improved majorly throughout the second session, going fastest on the ultrasoft tyre being just over a tenth behind and also looked good on the supersofts being within .016 of the four times champions time.
Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was three-tenths of Verstappen in the early stages on used tyres, before Hamilton improved on his second run to go fastest on supersofts. Ferrari responses came half an hour later, but were half a second off the pace.
Bottas finished the session third fastest behind the Dutchman, just over a tenth off Verstappen. However, it was not the best start for the Finn, he ran into the gravel at Turn Four after a tangle with Raikkonen.
Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo was seventh after a red flag interrupted his fastest lap. Ricciardo was improving when the red flag came out, thanks to a loose bit of cabling on track from the overhead cabling coming lose.
However, he was summoned to the stewards after they decided he failed to back off enough when the red flag came out. That has earned him a three-place grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently.
After the red flag, the teams switched their focus to long runs. That allowed Haas’s Romain Grosjean to finish sixth behind the top three teams, within three-quarters of a second of Hamilton.
Haas has been a surprise since testing, with speed and reliability showing the team has joined the midfield. Hamilton himself tipping the American team for a strong season and the team being cautiously optimistic. The Frenchman’s time was almost half a second ahead of Fernando Alonso.
The McLaren driver managed twenty-seven laps, after losing track time in FP1 thanks of an exhaust issue. Alonso teammate Stoffel Vandoorne was tenth fastest, the McLaren duo being spilt by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz slipped just outside the top ten, with his teammate Nico Hulkenberg thirteenth fastest, the pair separated by the Force India of Sergio Perez.
The Renault, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Force India and Williams were all separated by under a second. This could lead to a very competitive fight this season.
At the back Marcus Ericsson was just a thousandth of a second faster than his teammate Charles Leclerc, however, both drivers were eight tenths off the midfield pack.
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