F1 2017 Australian Grand Prix : Friday practice report – Hamilton in a league of his own

Friday free practice sessions FP1 and FP2 for the 2017 Australian Grand Prix have just ended and Mercedes are on top. Especially Lewis Hamilton. Yeah, comfortably. Damn.

Mercedes started FP1 strong..

Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes was the driver who went fastest first both on his super soft and ultra soft tire stints. However, Lewis pulled out an impressive 0.6 seconds on his teammate to top the charts for FP1.

657068958.jpg          Photo credit : NBC Sports

Interestingly however, Mercedes were the only team to even go on to the ultra soft tyres in FP1. Nobody else bothered with them.

Daniel Ricciardo went 3rd fastest in his Red Bull a tenth behind Bottas but on super softs, followed by his team mate Verstappen.a second off Lewis, again on super softs.

F1-2017-Australian-Grand-Prix-Preview-Red-Bull.jpgPhoto credit : This is F1

The Ferrari domination was nowhere to be seen in FP1 as Kimi and Seb Vettel finished the session around 1.2 seconds off Lewis Hamilton’s time. You could say this was a bit of a reality check for Ferrari, but general consensus was that they were carrying a higher fuel load and still not showing true pace. I’d like to hang on to this ray of hope for as long as possible please.

Renault’s Jolyon Palmer had a pretty useless session as his gearbox problem meant he could only do 6 laps in FP1. It was a tough start to Stoffel Vandoorne’s F1 career in the McLaren as he couldn’t get onto track for the first 60 of the 90 min session and when he did, he ended up last on the timing sheet.

FP2 brought more Lewis domination..

By the time the afternoon session came around, it was evident that Mercedes had thrown down the gauntlet. Ferrari and Red Bull were perhaps waiting for the track to clean up? Perhaps. But it didn’t matter.

17504658_1360682023998838_7121748036420949013_o.jpgPhoto credit : Formula 1

Ferrari did eventually come to play with Vettel going fastest initially but Lewis Hamilton breached the 1 min 23 s barrier on his ultra soft tires.

The Mercedes race runs revealed impressive lap times for Lewis consistently hovering around the 1:28 mark and comfortably pulling out a 1:28:100 even on his 10-12th lap on ultras. 

Seb Vettel split the two Mercs in terms of fastest lap time but the Ferrari race pace seemed a bit off that of Mercedes.

Palmer shunted his Renault into the barrier causing a red flag. Dreadful worst to his season – 6 laps in FP1 and a massive shunt in FP2.

external.jpg    Photo credit : FOX Sports

Elsewhere, Felipe Massa couldn’t do his long race runs as he had to stop because of a gearbox issue. Also, an unknown problem meant that Haas driver Kevin Magnussen could only manage 6 laps in FP2. Not ideal for all of these guys at the start of the season when all you need is loads and loads of useful data on track.

It seemed however, that Carlos Sainz Jr was on it as his fantastic lap time of 1:25:084 meant that he ended FP2 best of the rest in P7. Stoffel’s afternoon was better than his morning too as the Belgian rookie managed 33 laps in his McLaren Honda.

To summarise Friday’s proceedings..

  • Hamilton is half a second faster than anyone else – in a league of his own.
  • Bottas is doing well to keep up but should dig deep so as to not fall behind the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.
  • Ferrari haven’t really translated their pre-season hype today as their pace wasn’t THAT impressive.
  • As expected, Red Bull are the third best team with a bit of catching up to do.
  • Carlos Sainz Jr pulled out a mega lap and Toro Rosso look competitive around Albert Park.
  • Palmer, Magnussen, Vandoorne, and Massa plagued by car problems.
  • I might be a fool for hoping Ferrari still haven’t revealed true pace.
  • FORMULA ONE IS SO FAST NOW!

I’ll be back tomorrow with the Qualifying report and perhaps stories from FP3 if something noteworthy happens. Until then, take care and hope for a Ferrari pole tomorrow eh?

(Feature image courtesy : crash.net)

– Aditya Bhat.

 

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