World Champion, Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in 2018 by topping both of Friday’s Free Practice sessions in Melbourne.
Free Practice 1:
They say that there are four seasons in a day in Melbourne, but we only saw one as perfect weather conditions endured throughout both ninety-minute practice sessions earlier today. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are the favourites to retain their respective crowns and both team and driver got off to the perfect start in 2018, being the first man to dip below the 1:25 mark.
Williams’ new boy, Sergey Sirotkin, almost had an embarrassing crash going into the pit-lane, but the Russian managed to scrape the wall rather than impale his car into it. The Haas cars were looking quick, Romain Grosjean finishing the session in P7, but their speed came at a price as both the Frenchman and teammate Kevin Magnussen suffered off-track excursions.
Both McLarens made the top 10 but it was Hamilton who led a Mercedes 1-2 by over half a second. The Red Bull of Max Verstappen was third but over seven tenths off the four-time World Champion.
Free Practice 2:
Force India’s Sergio Perez topped the speed traps in FP1, but as the sun began to set in Australia, Hamilton topped this table as well, there was just no stopping him today. Valtteri Bottas in the sister Mercedes had a hairy moment at the exit of the high-speed chicane but the Finn still classified third when the chequered flag waved. Verstappen was closest to Hamilton, less than two tenths separated the drivers at the top of the standings so the Dutchman cannot be ruled out in tomorrow’s qualifying. Grosjean was again showing Haas’ potential to be a dark horse this season, improving to P6 ahead of home-favourite, Daniel Ricciardo.
Formula 1 is back and now we have a much more accurate picture of where the teams are heading into this season. Mercedes appear to still be on top, but it’s Red Bull who are their nearest challengers, not Ferrari. The likes of Haas and McLaren will be aiming to pick up points come Sunday, while Sauber are still some way off the rest of the field. Who do you think will claim pole position tomorrow? Let us know in the comments below!
FP2 Full Classification:
|1. Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:23.931|
|2. Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:24.058|
|3. Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1:24.159|
|4. Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1:24.214|
|5. Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:24.451|
|6. Romain Grosjean||Haas||1:24.648|
|7. Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:24.721|
|8. Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1:25.200|
|9. Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:25.246|
|10. Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||1:25.285|
|11. Carlos Sainz||Renault||1:25.390|
|12. Sergio Perez||Force India||1:25.413|
|13. Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||1:25.463|
|14. Lance Stroll||Williams||1:25.543|
|15. Esteban Ocon||Force India||1:25.888|
|16. Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:25.925|
|17. Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:29.945|
|18. Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||1:25.974|
|19. Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1:26.814|
|20. Charles Leclerc||Sauber||1:26.815|