Lewis Hamilton posts fastest practice lap in F1 2019 opening session

16 March, 2019, 02:54 | Author: Amy Huff
  • Lewis Hamilton will start from pole

Ricciardo joined Renault ahead of the 2019 season, having spent five seasons with the Red Bull Racing squad, where he won seven Grands Prix, in the knowledge that he would not be challenging for wins and podiums immediately, but building the team towards that target in future seasons.

The Briton led a Mercedes one-two in the second session as he powered round Melbourne's Albert Park circuit under clear skies with a best of one minute 22.600 seconds.

Max Verstappen was fourth quickest for Red Bull, less than two-tenths of a second shy of Hamilton.

Ferrari, who appeared to have the quickest vehicle in pre-season testing, were fourth with Sebastian Vettel.

The Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were sixth and seventh respectively.

"I have a positive buzz from driving the auto today".

Vettel torpedoed the notion, saying the auto simply felt different to the one tested in Barcelona. "They are still the team to beat - we are just trying to improve and go as fast as we can".

Hamilton is gunning for a third world crown in a row to close in on Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff on Friday said he had no problem with star driver Lewis Hamilton's passion for extreme sports, despite the injury risk to such a lucrative asset.

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But all the ability in the world can't mask the fact the auto just isn't good enough.

"We didn't bring a lot of new parts to the auto, but we were able to optimise the package that we have", he said.

Setting aside Mercedes' early pace, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto insisted his team's pre-season performances counted for little now. Are the red cars keeping something in reserve for qualifying and the race?

Meanwhile, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has said Hamilton's activities outside of Formula One - skydiving and his fashion brand - were not a "negative distraction".

Ricciardo feels those things could well be learnt from Hulkenberg, whose long-run pace he described as "quite impressive" and which left him encouraged for the weekend ahead. "Box", he said on the team radio. "It was a bit of a time delay, but I could tell that everyone was getting a bit frustrated".

"It was a tricky day for us - it was probably a tricky day for everyone".

"If we can get that confidence and that groove back, there is a lot of lap time in that around here", he added.

British-born Thai debutant Alexander Albon had a tough day, crashing his Toro Rosso to lose his front wing and cause a brief halt in the first session.

His best time of 1:26.655 for Williams was slowest on a day marred by the sudden death on Thursday of long-serving and well-respected Formula One race director Charlie Whiting.

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