Lewis Hamilton makes it a practice double at Australian Grand Prix as his Mercedes sets the pace ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel
- Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton quickest in the first two practice sessions ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
- Hamilton laid down a marker with a lap of 1 min 22.600 secs on Friday
- His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second-fastest in second practice
- Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were off the pace
- Hamilton had earlier finished fastest in the first practice session in Melbourne
Lewis Hamilton set out his intent with a practice double ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion had said his team had ‘work to do’ after Ferrari proved faster in pre-season testing in Barcelona.
But no-one could match the Silver Arrows under blue skies at Melbourne’s Albert Park in second practice on Friday afternoon.
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the first two practice sessions ahead of the Australian GP
The reigning world champion gives the thumbs up after the perfect start to the new season
Hamilton pictured ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valterri Bottas in the Melbourne practice
The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was second fastest in the second practice session on Friday
Bottas drives around the Melbourne circuit during Friday’s Australian Grand Prix practice
First Valtteri Bottas went around in one minute 22.648 seconds to lead the pack halfway through the 90-minute session with his first lap on soft tyres – half a second quicker than his pace on mediums.
Then Hamilton went purple in his first sector and laid down a marker ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session with a time of 1min 22.600secs.
The Mercedes team, who have won the constructors championship for the last five seasons, look in imperious form with the remaining pack at least 0.8 seconds behind the 34-year-old Briton.
Such was the dominance of Mercedes that Hamilton’s quickest time on the slower medium compound – one minute 23.148 seconds – would have been good enough for second place.
Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc for Ferrari, under new management this season, managed to get within hundredths of a second in first practice but were left with food for thought.
Vettel greets fans in Melbourne ahead of the opening race of the 2019 Formula One season
Max Verstappen talks to Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner in the pit lane
The German, a four-time winner of the world championship, recorded a fastest lap of one minute 23.473 – an improvement of 0.164 seconds compared to FP1 and only good enough for fifth place.
His teammate Leclerc fared even worse, spinning out at turn five late in the session and finishing ninth in the classification, 1.154 seconds behind Hamilton.
Red Bull took third and fourth, with Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly separated by 0.042 seconds, while Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Australian Daniel Ricciardo found the pace they missed in the first session to come in seventh and eighth respectively.
New Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc out on track during Friday’s practice session in Melbourne
Sebastian Vettel’s lap time in second practice was only good enough for fifth place
Kimi Raikkonen, preparing for his 17th Australian Grand Prix, was a tenth of a second behind Vettel in his Alfa Romeo for sixth, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounding out the top ten 1.214 seconds off the pace of Hamilton.
Just as was the case in first practice, two of the British newcomers finished in the bottom three in second practice.
Lando Norris was more than two seconds behind the lead with a best lap of one minute 24.733 seconds in his McLaren – 0.6 seconds behind teammate Carlos Sainz – while the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica were at the back of the pack with a deficit of 3.853 and 4.055 seconds respectively.
Australian GP practice times
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 01mins 22.600secs
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 01:22.648
3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 01:23.400
4 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull 01:23.442
5 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 01:23.473
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 01:23.572
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 01:23.574
8 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 01:23.644
9 Charles Leclerc (Fra) Ferrari 01:23.754
10 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 01:23.814
11 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 01:23.933
12 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 01:23.988
13 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point 01:24.011
14 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 01:24.133
15 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing 01:24.293
16 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point 01:24.401
17 Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso 01:24.675
18 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 01:24.733
19 George Russell (Gbr) Williams 01:26.453
20 Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams 01:26.655