With the first race of the season set to take place this Sunday, here is a quick overview of how things went down at Free Practice 1 in Australia.
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
It was last year’s champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes who ended up first with the quickest time of 1:23.599 which is a half-a-second improvement from last year’s time in Australia.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 15, 2019
“It’s really nice to get back out on track, I have a positive buzz from driving the car today – this is what I love doing,” he declared.
“The car feels like it’s in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track,” he said.
“We got through our programme really well, there were no issues on track. There’s plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start.
Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari
The German driver Vettel went in just 0.038s in second behind Hamilton who topped the practice race rankings.
— Sebastian Vettel #5 (@sebvettelnews) March 15, 2019
“Our car didn’t turn out to be the same like in Barcelona, but it’s going strong.
I am sure that our great and smart engineers will find out the reasons why we struggled today and we will see tomorrow.”
Charles Leclerc – Ferrari
The new addition to the Scuderia Ferrari team Charles Leclerc got in third place 0.074s off Hamilton’s time for first place.
That's a save from Leclerc to keep it away from the barriers pic.twitter.com/LG5lOgl5Jv
— Pelé (@Pelzeri_) March 15, 2019
“FP1 has been positive, so I’m very happy about this,” Leclerc explained after the two practice sessions. “The second session a bit less happy, there were more difficulties, the wind picked up and we seemed to struggle a bit more.
“There is no panic, we will try to figure out what is wrong. We already have some ideas and hopefully, we can fix it for tomorrow.”
Max Verstappen – Red Bull Racing
Young Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen finished in fourth place ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes and said he’s quite happy with his first-day performance in Australia.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) March 15, 2019
“I’m quite happy about today and the feeling so far is pretty good.
“Of course, there are always areas to improve and we are not fast enough yet but it’s only the first day of the season and there is a long way to go.” Verstappen said.
“It looks like Mercedes are very quick and they seem to be a little happier with the overall balance. In general, the car felt alright with medium and soft tyres but we still need to fully understand the compounds.”
Valtteri Bottas – Mercedes
The Mercedes driver from Finland Valtteri Bottas was the fifth-best player to end his session despite an off at the penultimate corner but was able to re-join without any drama. Bottas had been able to top the session in the opening thirty minutes of the practice session.
First @F1 Friday ✔️
Solid day for us. Had fun being back in the car and it’s feeling better. We look forward to tomorrow when the laptimes will matter 🇦🇺
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) March 15, 2019
“I don’t think we’ve seen all of the cards from any team, yet,” Bottas said. “We know how much we can improve, both for qualifying and the race, but we have no clue how much the others can.
“Ferrari were very strong in winter testing and I don’t think their speed has suddenly disappeared. They are maybe testing something different and we’ll find out tomorrow.”
Robert Kubica – Williams
After a torrid winter testing for Williams Racing, it was expected the team would have a slow start and that is what happened in the first practice session in Australia.
Kubica ended the session in 19th place at 4.315 seconds behind Hamilton’s time in the first place.
— ROKiT WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) March 15, 2019
The 34-year old said he struggled for “overall grip” in the opening session and even though it felt “better” in the second, he was hampered by what is believed to be minor floor damage.
“Unfortunately second practice was quite a lot of compromises with some damage,” said Kubica.
“It wasn’t a great afternoon. This morning we struggled quite a lot with overall grip.
“It’s already difficult when it’s running smooth.”
He added: “We have to stay away from kerbs, so it is not easy. Especially when you are fighting to stay on track.
“But yeah, the positive thing is the afternoon felt better.
“Unfortunately it was quite compromised with what is happening.”