Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel by 0.038s in FP1

Lewis Hamilton topped the first free practice session of Formula 1 2019 for Mercedes, but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just 0.038s behind.

Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel by 0.038s in FP1

Hamilton had warned that Mercedes faced a clear deficit to Ferrari in pre-season testing, but kicked off Friday afternoon’s first running in Melbourne as if it was business as usual. 

The five-time title winner set a 1m23.599s around the Albert Park circuit to head Vettel by 0.038s, with Charles Leclerc only 0.074s behind in his first grand prix session for Ferrari. 

Max Verstappen gave Red Bull and Honda an encouraging start to life together by clocking the fourth-best time, 0.193s off the pace. 

Mercedes spent almost all of FP1 on top, as Valtteri Bottas became the first frontrunner to set a meaningful time and head the leaderboard until Hamilton went quickest once the two switched from medium to soft tyres. 

Bottas’s soft-tyre run left him 0.267s slower than Hamilton and restricted him to fifth-fastest, but it could have been worse after a near-miss down an escape road. 

As he approached the penultimate corner, the Finn touched the grass on the outside and went straight on, locking up briefly and then booting the throttle to perform a neat pirouette – barely avoiding the barrier on the outside as his car swung round. 

New Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly failed to make the sort of impact as teammate Verstappen, and lapped 1.3s off the pace in eighth. 

That allowed Kimi Raikkonen to hold best-of-the-rest behind the big three, giving Alfa Romeo an early boost on its first grand prix weekend as a full entrant. 

However, Raikkonen was 1.2s off the pace, indicating the midfield group is no closer to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull than before. 

Gasly’s lack of pace in FP1 meant he also ended up behind his old team, Toro Rosso, and the driver he replaced at the Red Bull junior outfit in 2017 – Daniil Kvyat. 

The Russian, making his F1 comeback after a year as Ferrari development driver, set the seventh-best time and was only two-hundredths of a second slower than Raikkonen. 

His new teammate Alex Albon fared less well on his grand prix weekend debut, setting a respectable 13th-fastest time but causing a red flag when he nosed his car into the barriers on the exit of Turn 1 in the final half an hour. 

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken nose after spinning

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken nose after spinning

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

Haas was considered to be the midfield favourite after testing but Kevin Magnussen was only ninth-quickest in FP1, albeit only a tenth behind Raikkonen. 

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 after losing time early on to an “electronic error”. 

McLaren and Racing Point had a muted start to the season with its best drivers 14th (Carlos Sainz for McLaren) and 15th (Lance Stroll for Racing Point) respectively.

However, those teams were at least latched onto the back of the midfield group, whereas Williams was detached at the back of the field. 

Robert Kubica set the team’s quickest time but was 4.3s off the pace and a full two seconds slower than the next driver, McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Formula 2 champion George Russell ended FP1 slowest, 0.8s slower than teammate Kubica. 

It continues a troubling early 2019 for Williams, which was late to pre-season testing, has lost its chief technical officer Paddy Lowe and made changes to its car design to ensure its legality ahead of the weekend. 

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari looks on the Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari looks on the Mercedes AMG F1 W10
1/10

Photo by: Erik Junius

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10
2/10

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
3/10

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
4/10

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken front nose after spinning with Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14 driving by

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken front nose after spinning with Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14 driving by
5/10

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
6/10

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Robert Kubica, Williams FW42

Robert Kubica, Williams FW42
7/10

Photo by: Joe Portlock / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, leaves the garage

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, leaves the garage
8/10

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14, leads Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14, leads Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14
9/10

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10
10/10

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Practice times:

Pos Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 26 1'23.599  
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 18 1'23.637 0.038
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 18 1'23.673 0.074
4 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 22 1'23.792 0.193
5 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 30 1'23.866 0.267
6 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 18 1'24.816 1.217
7 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 30 1'24.832 1.233
8 France Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 23 1'24.932 1.333
9 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 24 1'24.934 1.335
10 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 11 1'25.015 1.416
11 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 23 1'25.166 1.567
12 France Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 18 1'25.224 1.625
13 Thailand Alex Albon Toro Rosso Honda 21 1'25.230 1.631
14 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren Renault 19 1'25.285 1.686
15 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 26 1'25.288 1.689
16 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 21 1'25.498 1.899
17 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault Renault 16 1'25.634 2.035
18 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Renault 31 1'25.966 2.367
19 Poland Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 25 1'27.914 4.315
20 United Kingdom George Russell Williams Mercedes 25 1'28.740 5.141
shares
comments
The changes that ensure the Williams is legal

Previous article

The changes that ensure the Williams is legal

Next article

Analysis: How Racing Point has upgraded its ‘vanilla’ F1 car

Analysis: How Racing Point has upgraded its ‘vanilla’ F1 car
Load comments
The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat Prime

The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap-one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt Prime

The off-track considerations that led to Hamilton/Verstappen F1 shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming.

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021