Lewis Hamilton ended Free Practice 1 of the 2019 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park quickest by 0.038s for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport from Scuderia Ferrari‘s Sebastian Vettel in second.
The reigning-world champion set a time of 1:23.599, nearly half a second up on last year’s time in the same session. Charles Leclerc was 0.074s off Hamilton’s time in third, and Max Verstappen a further tenth behind in fourth and looking really strong.
Valtteri Bottas, who had topped the session in the opening thirty minutes, completed his session in fifth despite an off at the penultimate corner, before re-joining without drama. Kimi Räikkönen was a solid sixth for Alfa Romeo Racing, nearly a full second off his compatriot.
Daniil Kvyat was next for Toro Rosso Honda in seventh but had set his time on the medium tyre, unlike most of the others who had set their best laps on the soft compound. Pierre Gasly was the last of the Red Bull Racing cars in eighth, over a second off his team-mate Verstappen.
Kevin Magnussen was ninth for Haas F1 Team with Nico Hülkenberg, who had spent most of the session in the garage without setting a time due to electrical issues, rounded out the top ten for Renault F1 Team.
Antonio Giovinazzi set the eleventh fastest time ahead of Romain Grosjean, while Alexander Albon was thirteenth after a coming together with the wall on the exit of Turn 2, losing his front wing before bringing his damaged STR14 back to the pits.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was fourteenth for McLaren F1 Team, ahead of the two Racing Point F1 Team cars of Lance Stroll and Sergio Pérez, who are running with new upgrades for this weekend. Home-hero Daniel Ricciardo ended his first official session for Renault F1 Team in seventeenth position, two seconds off the pace.
Finally, the two Williams Racing drivers of Robert Kubica and George Russell making up the timing pages, as they were over two seconds off their nearest competitors and looking well off the pace as expected after a torrid winter testing.
To summarise, less than three tenths of a second covers the top five, as it looks exceptionally close between Mercedes and Ferrari like it was ever so often last year. It is only the first session, so there is still plenty of time for development over the course of the weekend.
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