Hamilton tops season opening practice

Australian Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice session of the season in Melbourne.

The Mercedes driver did a lap time of 1:24.220 on the purple-marked ultrasoft tyre, which Pirelli has brought to the Albert Park track for the first time.

His time was just seven tenths of a second away from Sebastian Vettel’s ultimate lap record from 2011, and was half a second quicker than team mate Valtteri Bottas on the same tyre in second.

Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest but on the red-marked supersoft tyre and only a tenth behind Bottas. He was four tenths ahead of team mate Max Verstappen.

Ferrari completed minimal running during the session as the track was very dusty and low-grip during the early running; a characteristic of the circuit that has presented itself several times in the past as the track is largely consists of public roads.

In the closing .Sp5rl!47rs of the session, however, both Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel put in some laps to go fifth and sixth respectively.

Teams were also reluctant to put in many laps as all their engines are brand new and naturally want to save them for qualifying; extenuated by the limit of four engines for the season.

Felipe Massa was seventh fastest for Williams and was 1.9 seconds off the pace. He was just ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg on his Renault debut, with Sergio Perez completing the top ten.

The two Toro Rossos were 11th and 12th with Carlos Sainz Jr. leading Daniil Kvyat, ahead of Lance Stroll.

Fernando Alonso was 14th for McLaren while team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was restrained to the garage for half the session due to a loss in water pressure after the Belgian completed his installation lap. He finished the session slowest in 20th.

Marcus Ericsson was the top Sauber in 15th ahead of Esteban Ocon who lost the first half of the session to a brake problem.

Kevin Magnussen was 17th ahead of Pascal Wehrlein and Jolyon Palmer, another driver to lose valuable track time to a mechanical problem; his being a broken seal on his transmission.

Click here to see the results from the session.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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