F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton opened the 2016 with a bang.
The Mercedes driver topped the first practice session of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix in wet conditions. Hamilton registered a time of 1:29.725, 0.421 seconds faster than second placed Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull. Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull completed the podium finishers.
A late shower prevented four-time champion and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel to complete the lap. It would have given Mercedes some means for comparison.
Despite finishing third, Red Bull driver Ricciardo ended the session with a spin in Turn 13. He ran wide at the most demanding section of the track with no major ill effects. He was 1.15 seconds off Hamilton’s quickest lap.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg briefly led the race but dropped to fourth ahead of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen in fifth. Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg missed the best of the conditions and finished sixth. The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Rounding out the Top 10 are Sergio Perez of Force India and Kevin Magnussen.
The Prancing Horse, whose pre-season times were a cause for concern for Mercedes, were thwarted several times by inclement weather. Germany’s Sebastian Vettel was the first out of the pits in the opening session but could not post a lap time due to wet conditions.
With wet weather tyres on his Ferrari in the second session, Vettel finished with the eighth best time. Raikkonen, on the other hand, was third fastest in the second session despite a slow lap and a spin in the first session.
However, Hamilton believes that Ferrari has an “ace up their sleeves” which Vettel vehemently denied.
New team Haas F1, the first US-owned team in 30 years, had a cautious debut with drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez registering slow times on both sessions.
Photo Courtesy: MTracey/Formula 1 Wikia.com