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Lewis Hamilton posts fastest practice lap in F1 2019 opening session

16 March, 2019, 02:54 | Author: Delia Walker
  • Formula One World Championship

Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has posted the fastest practice lap at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Friday.

The Mercedes driver's fastest lap of 1 minute, 23.599 seconds was 0.038 faster than Sebastian Vettel, who is aiming for a third consecutive victory at the Australian GP.

Vettel was not far off the pace of the Red Bulls in the second session but he slid through the grass and complained of handling problems on the team radio.

After winter testing, Hamilton said he thought Ferrari were a half-second quicker than Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel, who has won in Melbourne for the past two years, could only manage fifth, almost a second adrift of arch-rival Hamilton, while Ferrari partner Charles Leclerc struggled to ninth, straddling the kerb and spinning as he pushed hard late in the day.

Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen was fifth quickest - just 0.099secs behind his former Ferrari team-mate Vettel.

Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton said it was "not hard to read" Mercedes' testing form, and insisted the team wasn't playing mind games with its pre-season estimations.

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

Vettel later bolted on softs and put in a lap of 1m23.473s to go fifth fastest, subsequently describing the vehicle as "still a bit wobbly" over the radio.

"When we get to Q2 and they start to crank the engines up, that's when the story will start to unfold of where are Honda".

Ahead of qualifying this afternoon Wide World of Sports looks at the big issues raised by the first two practice sessions.

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

"We don't actively encourage our drivers to go and take a lot of risk, but they've got to live their lives and have some fun along the way".

Thai driver Alex Albon had a debut to forget with Toro Rosso, leading that group of four outlying drivers at the back of the field after a scrappy two sessions, including a crash early in the day.

"I think it's really about finishing races and analysing and making sure you are getting as many points as you can, of course, but I'm not really one for needing to stamp authority".

In between, FIA President Jean Todt and Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey attended a news conference with started with a minute of silence in memory of race director Charlie Whiting, who died in Melbourne on Thursday from a pulmonary embolism.



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