2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice
The 2018 Formula 1 season is now under way and we had our first practice sessions take place in Melbourne with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team showing promising pace, as expected, in Friday Practice with Lewis Hamilton ending the day in P1 and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas in P3 closely followed by Red Bull and Ferrari.
MERCEDES – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice
Lewis Hamilton – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:24.026 (27 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:23.931 (35 Laps)
Valtteri Bottas – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:24.577 (29 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:24.159 (34 Laps)
Lewis Hamilton: “Coming to the first race, you really have no idea what it’s going to be like. You don’t know how you’re going to feel physically, you don’t know how the tyres are going to react to the circuit but we started on the right foot today.”
“We got through everything we needed, it closed up a little bit in FP2 in terms of the gap between us all – but, that’s exciting! It’s more challenging for me to try and eke out a little more from the car.”
“It’s been such a nice day at Albert Park, it really is a beautiful place to be and work when the weather is like this. The Tyres definitely didn’t seem to have the same issue we had in Barcelona when they were blistering so it felt a lot more natural. Turns 11 and 12 are crazy – we’re not even braking in that corner. It’s insane.”
“It’s going to rain tomorrow and on Sunday as far as I’m aware. I’ve not driven in the rain yet on these tyres so that will be interesting.”
Valtteri Bottas: “FP1 was tricky for me, we had a little bit of an issue with the suspension and also with the fuel system so it was difficult to get a good comparison. I don’t think these issues are something to worry about, it’s just something we discovered in the session.”
“In second practice, the car felt a lot better but there’s still more to unlock – I have to say thank you to the team because we are looking strong at this point so I think that’s a good start. It’s good to be back on track and go racing.”
“It’s looking really close between us – Ferrari and Red Bull but that was more or less expected. Let’s see what tomorrow brings, we have got some information for the long runs if it’s a dry race. We got some tyre data and we can see that a lot of things are behaving differently to testing in Barcelona because it’s much warmer and it’s a different tarmac.”
“We’ve definitely learned a lot and we’ll keep learning.”
James Allison: “It was a good day. We had a programme of finding out how the tyres behaved and we’ve been able to work through that without any drama. It’s always brilliant as always after the winter testing to actually go racing again and find out more for real where our car stands.”
“If we were in any doubt before, we’re in no doubt that it’s going to be a tight weekend with both Ferrari and Red Bull – we’re looking forward to the fight tomorrow and again on Sunday.”
RED BULL RACING – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice
The Red Bull Racing team looked strong in free practice, with Verstappen just ahead of his team-mate. The day ended with Max Verstappen in P3 and Daniel Ricciardo in P6 who’s low fuel run got cut short due to a red flag.
Daniel Ricciardo – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:25.063 (25 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:24.721 (28 Laps)
Max Verstappen – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:24.771 (31 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:24.058 (34 Laps)
Daniel Ricciardo: “The car was okay but I was definitely happier with the long runs than the short. My low fuel got cut short by the red flag but to be honest, after doing nine turns on that lap, I wasn’t fully happy with the balance.”
“I think that I would have been a bit quicker than that on the soft tyre but generally, it’s not been a bad day. I got a good feel for the car and I think that tomorrow, it’s going to be wet so I don’t know how relevant today will be.”
“Looking at the times, it’s nice to see the top three teams – even Haas can be close as it would a pretty nice start to the new season.”
Max Verstappen: “For me, this has been a positive start to the weekend so I’m really happy about that. The car has behaved well on this track which is always pleasing after only running in Barcelona to date.”
“Of course we have only done two practice sessions so it’s still hard to see who is the strongest and how we will finish come race day. It’s a bit of a guess when you come to the first circuit of the season.”
“It takes at least two or three Grand Prix races to understand what is going on and it depends on everyone’s development rate throughout the year. Race pace looks good, I think there is definitely some room for improvement – Mercedes look pretty strong but I’m not concerned with how it looks at the moment.”
“A little bit of rain over the rest of the weekend would help us out – being wet means that performance is less engine dependent and it makes the power tricky to control – our car is usually strong in the wet and I enjoy it so fingers crossed we get some rain.”
MCLAREN – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice
Both Fernando and Stoffel had a cautious start to the first practice session. Fernando’s crew detected a small issue around the exhaust on his car early on so the team spent time thoroughly checking both cars.
The second session was very productive and the team executed it’s full programme – both drivers focused on full set-up for the weekend ahead and completed their run plans which was a smooth session.
In free practice 2 Fernando Alonso completed 28 laps (P8) and Stoffel Vandoorne completed 34 laps ending the day in P10.
Fernando Alonso – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:25.896 (16 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:22.200 (28 Laps)
Stoffel Vandoorne – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:26.482 (15 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:25.285 (34 Laps)
Fernando Alonso: “It’s good to be back in the racing spirit and it’s a nice feeling to be with all the cars on track after a lonely winter testing where you are the only car per team on track and have empty grandstands.”
“Being the first day of the season, there were a lot of things we wanted to test however the weather conditions will be changeable from tomorrow so we will need to be careful with the information that we have gathered.”
“We lost a little bit of time in the first practice with some issues but we managed to recover everything in the second session and now, we need to analyse everything to get the best package for tomorrow.”
“The weather is going to affect everyone and we’re used to these changeable conditions so hopefully we can maximise every opportunity.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “Today was a pretty good day. We lost a little bit of time on track in the first 45 minutes of FP1 but we had a good run after that and we got some good learning from the car which was the important thing after winter testing. The issues we had weren’t big problem and we got on top of everything pretty quickly.”
“We had a very productive day so I’m looking forward to putting all the pieces together with the set-up for tomorrow and to see where we are at.”
“I think we’re in a reasonable shape and the feeling in the car is positive – it feels like we’ve got something to work with and everything is running how we want it to. We just need to keep pushing forward to gain performance.”
“The most important thins was to go through the programme and we did that – I’m excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow and I think we’re very close in group with some of the other teams.”
“Hopefully we can benefit from the rain that’s on the radar this weekend make the most of it.”
Eric Boullier: “Today had been a productive day and for the first time we have more representative conditions. Track temperatures were much higher than any day during testing which has meant that we’ve been able to test certain set-up parameters which we couldn’t do in Barcelona.”
“Although we had a slightly interrupted start to the day, things were quickly addressed and bot drivers got out on track for some valuable mileage in the second half of the session.”
“Both drivers have provided positive feedback about the car and we have some solid information that our engineers are busy analysing. We look ahead to the first qualifying session of the year – ironically, the weather conditions look like they will change again but we will maximise what we know and keep pushing to progress through each session.”
“It’s great to be back at Melbourne and we’re all very happy to be racing again.”
SAUBER – 2018 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice
The main focus for the Sauber Alfa Romeo team was set-up work and tyre management in preparation for the race. A good improvement was made by drivers from FP1 to FP2.
Marcus Ericsson – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:27.964 (28 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:26.814 (31 Laps)
Charles Leclerc – Free Practice 1 Time: 1:28.853 (28 Laps) – Free Practice 2 Time: 1:26.815 (35 Laps)
Marcus Ericsson: “It was a positive day, we completed a lot of laps testing different compounds. We continued developing our understanding of the new car, building on what we have learned during the winter testing.”
“We still have lots of work ahead to get us to where we want to be. Today’s sessions were good in preparing us for the rest of the weekend and in any case, it’s great to be back racing and it’s fun to be here.”
Charles Leclerc: “Overall, it’s been a very productive day for me. There are a lot of things going on in the car that are new – I can already tell that I have learned a lot since this morning.”
“It was my first time driving on this track in Albert Park which was exciting, we mainly worked on finding the best set-up for the car and drove on different tyre compounds today. By FP2, I already felt comfortable in the car and I really look forward to being back on track tomorrow.”
Lots more coming soon!