The 2018 Formula 1 season got underway with Free Practice One at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne – and it was Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton who took the top spot on the time-sheets.
Hamilton asserted his place early on in the session, with the next fastest time falling to team-mate Valtteri Bottas – who was over half a second slower. Both times were set on the ultrasoft tyre.
Max Verstappen was the best placed Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver in third, whilst Daniel Ricciardo could only manage sixth, with the Scuderia Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel separating them.
The Haas F1 Team went some of the way to living up to the expectations of challenging in the upper-midfield, with Romain Grosjean going seventh quickest and earning him ‘best of the rest spot’ behind the three top teams. Kevin Magnussen took a trip onto the grass and only managed to go seventeenth.
The McLaren F1 Team had a torrid first half of the session, with exhaust issues Fernando Alonso’s car, and problems too for Stoffel Vandoorne, meaning they both lost a lot of running time. But they were able to get some laps in the latter stages of practice, with Alonso going eighth fastest and Vandoorne tenth. It was Renault Sport Formula One Team‘s Carlos Sainz Jr. who split the pair, going ninth fastest.
Just outside of the top ten was Pierre Gasly in the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, closely followed by Williams Martini Racing‘s rookie driver, Sergey Sirotkin in what was a promising first outing for the Russian. Nico Hulkenberg could only manage thirteenth fastest in the second Renault.
Last year’s fourth-placed team in the Constructor’s Championship, Sahara Force India F1 Team were a way off the pace, with Esteban Ocon in fourteenth and Sergio Perez going sixteenth. Between them on the time sheets was Williams’ Lance Stroll.
Brendon Hartley looked to be having some issues with the Toro Rosso and subsequently went eighteenth fastest, ahead of only the two Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team drivers, Marcus Ericsson and rookie Charles Leclerc.
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