Australia – Friday – An overview

As we approach the first race of the 2017 season, Mercedes have the edge so far, with Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest time in FP1 and FP2.

FP1:

Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets this morning, leading teammate Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes 1-2.

However, Mercedes were the only team to test the ultra-soft tyres, with the others trialling only the soft and supersofts.

Behind them, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen completed the session in third and fourth, followed by Ferrari, with a fifth and sixth place finish for Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Williams’ Felipe Massa finished seventh, closely followed by Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Force India’s Sergio Perez completed the top ten.

Verstappen struggled with gear synchronisation on his Red Bull, Force India’s Esteban Ocon suffered from brake problems, and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer only completed six laps after a gearbox problem.

McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne ran on supersofts with aero rake devices fitted, representative of how behind the team are on mileage following a poor winter testing. However, the Belgian suffered from mechanical issues.

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FP2:

Lewis Hamilton continued to show his emerging dominance as the Brit finished at the top of the timesheets in the second practice session.

Hamilton was more than half a second faster than second place finishing Sebastian Vettel, after Vettel sat at the top of the timesheets at the start.

This was extended due to Renault’s Jolyon Palmer suffering from a heavy crash 20 minutes into the session at the final corner.

Palmer lost the rear of his Renault and collided backwards with the tyre wall at Turn 16, heavily damaging the car, and setting him out for the rest of the session.

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Felipe Massa suffered from problems, as his car ground to a halt with what Massa believes is a electrical problem.

Max Verstappen ran extra-wide at Turn 12, as the ride over grass and gravel damaged the floor of his RB13. It was also a demonstration of how close the new front wings are to the ground, and how much more precision is required from drivers with the new regulations.

Yup, went off there,” Verstappen spoke.

Team boss Christian Horner believes that the young Dutchman was carrying too much speed into the corner, as Verstappen was “try[ing] to find a better balance“.

A water-related problem sent Haas’ Kevin Magnussen back to the pits, limiting him to only six laps, whilst Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson beached his Sauber in the gravel with only five minutes to go.

The problem stemmed from the fact that the rear of the car went as it touched the grass, showing that the extra wide tyres do make a difference on the cars, and how the drivers have to adjust to the new regulations.

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FP3 and Qualifying begin tomorrow.

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