Lewis Hamilton concluded day one of the first Grand Prix of 2018 by setting the best lap of free practice two around the Albert Park circuit, although his afternoon effort was not as quick as he achieved during the morning session.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver was the only one to get below eighty-four seconds on Friday afternoon, with his best of 1:23.931s just over a tenth of a second clear of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Despite a lurid moment exiting the high speed chicane at the back of the circuit, Valtteri Bottas ended the session third in the second Mercedes, with the Finn 0.228 seconds behind his team-mate but perhaps more importantly to both team and driver, ahead of both Scuderia Ferrari drivers.
Kimi Räikkönen edged out team-mate Sebastian Vettel in the session by 0.237 seconds, but with times likely to be irrelevant heading into the weekend, the fact that both Ferraris were relatively close to both Mercedes and Red Bull, all three teams will be confident they can start the season off strongly.
Someone who impressed during Friday afternoon was Romain Grosjean, with the Haas F1 Team driver setting the sixth fastest time overall, just 0.717 seconds off the pace, and he was the only driver of the leading three teams to be within a second of Hamilton’s time up front.
The Frenchman also found himself ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, although his Qualifying simulation was ended by a red flag, caused when it appeared the wiring on the timing loop on the start line came loose. Without a representative time, the Australian was forced to settle for seventh, but his sector times early in the lap indicated more pace is to come from his RB14.
Fernando Alonso ended with the eighth fastest time for the McLaren F1 Team, 1.269 seconds behind Hamilton, while Kevin Magnussen rounded out a good afternoon for Haas in ninth, just ahead of Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was eleventh fastest in the leading of the Renault Sport Formula One Team machines, with Sergio Perez likewise the fastest of the Sahara Force India F1 Team drivers in twelfth, with their respective team-mates, Nico Hülkenberg and Esteban Ocon thirteenth and fifteenth respectively, either side of Lance Stroll in the leading Williams Martini Racing FW41.
After drivers were allowed to do a practice start on the grid following the conclusion of the session, Stroll was forced to stop the car not long after his launch, hopefully more as a precaution due to a cooling issue more than anything more substantial.
The two Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda drivers were sixteenth and seventeenth respectively, Brendon Hartley ahead of Pierre Gasly, while Sergey Sirotkin was eighteenth in the second Williams as he adjusted to life as a fully-fledged Formula 1 driver.
Just 0.774 seconds covered Alonso in eighth from Sirotkin in eighteenth, but at the back of the field, the two Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team drivers were well adrift, with Marcus Ericsson edging out the other debutant on the grid this weekend, Charles Leclerc, by 0.001 seconds.
Australian Grand Prix Free Practice Two Result
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