An ominous sign for the rest of the teams? Mercedes end eight tenths of a second ahead over the rest of the field on the first day of the Australian Grand Prix.
Current Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in both of today’s free practice sessions, on a day when Mercedes saw themselves with an 8 tenths of a second advantage over the rest of the pack, overall, a very dominant performance by the German squad.
After edging ahead of Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in the first session, Hamilton turned it up in FP2 and set a fastest lap time of 1m22.600s in the new Mercedes W10 car.
Hamilton’s lap on the Soft compound tyre was enough to give him top spot by 0.048 seconds from Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with the duo running over three-quarters of a second clear of their rivals.
Max Verstappen finished as the best of the rest for Red Bull, but could only lap eight-tenths of a second off Hamilton’s time – a daunting chasm the chasing pack will hope shrinks through the remainder of the weekend.
Pierre Gasly took fourth in the second Red Bull car, while Vettel ended the session 0.873s back from Hamilton in fifth as the lead Ferrari driver. Teammate Charles Leclerc ended up P9, 1.1 seconds back off the pace. Leclerc also spun in the final five minutes of the session at Turn 4, but was able to recover his car back to the pits.
Kimi Raikkonen continued his strong start to the weekend for Alfa Romeo as he finished sixth ahead of the Renault duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo missed the early part of the session while adjustments were made to the race seat in his Renault R.S.19 car, but rallied to take eight overall.
Behind Leclerc, Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10 for Haas, with teammate Kevin Magnussen taking 12th, the pair split by Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso.
Lance Stroll led Racing Point’s charge in 13th ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Antonio Giovinazzi, who escaped a spin at the final chicane without damaging his Alfa Romeo C38.
Sergio Perez took 16th in the sister Racing Point car ahead of Alexander Albon, who had a second spin in as many sessions today as he also went off at the final chicane after touching the grass.
Lando Norris finished 18th for McLaren ahead of the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica, who finished over 1.7 seconds off the rest of the field.