Hamilton Quickest in FP1 as Formula 1 Season Begins in Australia


Lewis Hamilton went quickest in the first practice of the new season, as the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship campaign got underway in Melbourne.

The defending champion beat Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by over half a second as running got underway at the Albert Park circuit, with Max Verstappen a further two tenths of a second off the pace.

With the temporary circuit lacking grip, teams played a waiting game in the early stages and more than 20 minutes before Williams rookie set the first timed lap of the day with a time of 1:32.057s. The front runners then joined the action with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen and Mercedes’ Bottas briefly topping the timesheet before red Bull Racing made its mark, with Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo trading fastest times as the drivers began to explore the limits of the improving track.

Hamilton then vaulted to the top of the order, first with a time of 1:24.531 and later with a time of 1:24.026 set on ultrasofts that stood until the flag fell. Verstappen, meanwhile, used the supersofts to claim third.

Fourth place went to Räikkönen, who finished 0.849 off Hamilton’s pace, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel fifth ahead of Red Bull’s Ricciardo who was just over a second off Hamilton’s pace.

Dark horses from testing Haas finished seventh, with Romain Grosjean setting a time of 1:25.730 to finish seven tenths off the last of the top three teams’ drivers. Fernando Alonso was eighth for McLaren as the team used Renault power for the first time on a grand prix weekend.

The British team had a difficult spell in pre-season testing, suffering a number of mechanical problems and in Melbourne the session was again not without trouble. Alonso spent some time in the garage with an exhaust problem. Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault, while Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top 10 order.

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 27 1:24.026
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 29 1:24.577 0.551
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 26 1:24.771 0.745
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 23 1:24.875 0.849
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 22 1:24.995 0.969
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 25 1:25.063 1.037
7 Romain Grosjean Haas 24 1:25.730 1.704
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren 16 1:25.896 1.870
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 23 1:25.922 1.896
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 15 1:26.482 2.456
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 25 1:26.494 2.468
12 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 25 1:26.536 2.510
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 25 1:26.583 2.557
14 Esteban Ocon Force India 30 1:26.605 2.579
15 Lance Stroll Williams 30 1:26.636 2.610
16 Sergio Perez Force India 26 1:26.767 2.741
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas 13 1:27.035 3.009
18 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 16 1:27.745 3.719
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 28 1:27.964 3.938
20 Charles Leclerc Sauber 28 1:28.853 4.827

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