Australian GP: Hamilton tops first practice of F1 2018

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Lewis Hamilton struck the first blow of Formula 1 2018 as he outpaced Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by half a second in the first free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The reigning world champion headed Bottas by 0.551s, as Red Bull edged Ferrari to be best of the rest.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was the first car to hit the track as he led the initial burst of installation runs, but it took 20 minutes for anyone to set a time.

The first flying lap came from Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin, but his 1m32.057s did not stand as the benchmark for long. Within five minutes the big teams began to make their mark, with Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas briefly going quickest before the Red Bulls hit the front.

Max Verstappen twice grabbed P1 from teammate Daniel Ricciardo – interrupted by Hamilton's first spell atop the times – and Verstappen was the first driver to dip below the 1m25s mark on a 1m24.959s.

Hamilton stamped his authority on the session not long after the half-hour mark, first lapping 0.022s quicker than Verstappen and then improving to 1m24.531s.

After a mid-session break for all 10 teams, Bottas emerged on a new set of ultrasofts and lapped 0.046s slower than Hamilton, but the four-time champion re-established a commanding lead with a 1m24.026s to go over half a second clear.

Bottas could not get any closer to Hamilton over the rest of the session, and although Verstappen improved his time after switching to supersofts, third and 0.745s off the pace was the best Red Bull could manage.

Ferrari split the two Red Bulls and occupied fourth and fifth place, with Raikkonen using soft tyres to lap a tenth quicker than Vettel, who made a mistake on his first flying lap on supersofts but improved on his second.

Ricciardo ended the session sixth fastest, a quarter of a second behind Verstappen but comfortably clear of an ultra-tight midfield headed by Romain Grosjean.

Haas looked strong in pre-season testing and Grosjean continued that form in Australia by lapping 1.7s slower than Hamilton on a 1m25.730s – as a second covered the Frenchman in seventh to Sergio Perez's Force India in 16th.

Fernando Alonso ended up slightly slower than Grosjean after McLaren recovered from a difficult start to FP1 to end up with both cars in the top 10.

Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne spent most of the first hour in the garage – Alonso suffered an exhaust problem while Vandoorne was largely absent save for a run that featured a "driveability" issue.

When Alonso emerged for proper running in the final half an hour he made quick progress up the order and eventually settled into eighth on a 1m25.896s, on supersofts, but would have been faster without a scruffy final sector.

Vandoorne used soft tyres to rise to 10th, half a second behind Alonso, as Carlos Sainz's supersoft-shod Renault split the MCL33s.

Rookie Sirotkin outpaced Williams teammate Lance Stroll by a tenth, with Pierre Gasly recording the 11th fastest time on his Albert Park debut for Toro Rosso-Honda.

Nico Hulkenberg was 13th quickest, 0.6s adrift of Renault teammate Sainz, but ahead of the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Perez – who were split by Stroll.

Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso) and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc completed the timesheet.

2018 Australian GP FP1 results

PosDriverChassisEngineLapsTimeGap
1 united_kingdom  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 27 1'24.026  
2 finland  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 29 1'24.577 0.551
3 netherlands  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 26 1'24.771 0.745
4 finland  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 23 1'24.875 0.849
5 germany  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 22 1'24.995 0.969
6 australia  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 25 1'25.063 1.037
7 france  Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 24 1'25.730 1.704
8 spain  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Renault 16 1'25.896 1.870
9 spain  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Renault Renault 23 1'25.922 1.896
10 belgium  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 15 1'26.482 2.456
11 france  Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 25 1'26.494 2.468
12 russia  Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 25 1'26.536 2.510
13 germany  Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 25 1'26.583 2.557
14 france  Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 30 1'26.605 2.579
15 canada  Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 30 1'26.636 2.610
16 mexico  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 26 1'26.767 2.741
17 denmark  Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 13 1'27.035 3.009
18 new_zealand  Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 16 1'27.745 3.719
19 sweden  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 28 1'27.964 3.938
20 monaco  Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 28 1'28.853 4.827
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Track Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit
Article type Practice report