Hamilton and Mercedes dominate 2nd practice in Melbourne

Hamilton and Mercedes bury everyone on practice 2
Hamilton and Mercedes bury everyone in practice 2

The so-called experts all said Ferrari were fastest coming out of preseason testing and were the team to beat. AR1.com told you repeatedly during that testing that Mercedes were sandbagging.

They were.

A lot.

Lewis Hamilton topped second free practice ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Mercedes.

Hamilton, using soft Pirellis, edged Bottas into second place by 0.048 seconds.

So dominant is the Mercedes that Hamilton was quick enough on the harder medium tires to beat everyone on the soft red tires.

The 2019 season is over before it got started. Lewis Hamilton will be the 2019 World Champion. Bank on it.

Max Verstappen was third fastest for Red Bull-Honda, eight tenths slower than Hamilton.

Verstappen set his time with 15 minutes remaining, having spent much longer circulating on medium rubber.

Pre-season pacesetter Ferrari stunk up the joint, lapping well off the pace early on using medium-compound Pirellis, with Sebastian Vettel complaining over the radio that something felt wrong in Turns 1 and 4.

Vettel later bolted on softs and put in a lap of 1m23.473s to go fifth fastest, subsequently describing the car as "still a bit wobbly" over the radio.

Alfa Romeo newcomer Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest, a tenth behind Vettel, and just ahead of the two Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel called Mercedes claims of struggling bullshit
Vettel called Mercedes' claims of struggling bullshit

Vettel jokingly referred to pre-season claims of Mercedes struggling as "bullshit", before adding that he was genuinely surprised by its performance.

"It was a bit of a surprise," he said. "I thought they looked really quick.

"And I don't know if it was just us struggling a bit today, or also others, but as a matter of fact I think they were in a league of their own.

"Maybe everyone else was struggling and then we can turn it around, but they certainly look very strong and much stronger than they claimed before the weekend."

Asked why Ferrari lacked pace compared to Mercedes in practice two, Vettel said: "We don't know the reasons but we're looking for them", before joking "if you find them, let us know and lead them to our garage".

He said Ferrari "didn't get into the groove" on Friday, and believes there is a lot of lap time to be picked up once he regains confidence in the car.

"I can feel I have the car under me that I had in testing, but it doesn't do the same things, it's not doing exactly what I like here and there, and that's why I'm lacking confidence," he explained.

"I don't think it was awful. Here and there, there were bits that were really, really good and we can build on."

Quotes

Hamilton and Bottas relax in the garage as the other drivers try in vain to beat their times
Hamilton and Bottas relax in the garage as the other drivers try in vain to beat their times

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:22.600): "It's really nice to get back out on track. The weather is fantastic, we've already got quite a big crowd. I have a positive buzz from driving the car today – this is what I love doing. The car feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track. We got through our program really well, there were no issues on track. There's plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start. What we have to do now is really study and analyze everything, as we always do on a Friday night. But the fact is we've got two cars that continue to go around, none of us made a mistake and we kept the cars in one piece – that counts for a lot."

Valtteri Bottas (2nd, 1:22.648): "It's nice to be back in a race car, doing the thing we love to do – I had fun today. The car felt better than it did in testing. We didn't bring a lot of new parts to the car, but we were able to optimize the package that we have. It was a solid day for the first day back in the office, but the times are not important on a Friday. We haven't seen the full performance from any of the other teams. We have an idea of how much we can improve for qualifying, but we have no idea how much performance the other teams can still bring. It will be interesting to see what the first competitive session holds tomorrow."

James Allison, Technical Director: "It was a pretty productive day today, we achieved a decent balance with both drivers on both tires. We also ran some new bits and they seem to work okay. It's way too early in the weekend to have any sort of real idea of where we stand on pace, but what we do know is that the car seems to be handling reasonably well and it seems to have good tire degradation on both compounds that we ran which is a good sign for tomorrow, but we will only get a clear picture of where we stand later in the weekend."

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Sebastian Vettel (5th, 1:23.473): “It was fun today. Maybe we were not as fast as possibly we wanted to be and could have been, but it’s Friday, after all, so it doesn’t really matter. I am sure that by December 1st no one will remember how fast we were on March 15! I am still lacking a bit of confidence, it was a tricky day for us, as it probably was for everyone. We are not yet where we would like to be, not so much in terms of lap time but more in terms of car feel and handling. We didn’t really get into the groove and into the rhythm, which is quite important round here on such a bumpy but I think that tomorrow will be a better day and if we can get that confidence back, then there’s a lot of lap time in that. There were bits of the session that were really, really good and we can build on, so now it’s all about stringing it together and having a better day tomorrow. The night is long and our engineers are very smart. I am relaxed".

Charles Leclerc (9th, 1:23.754): “It was definitely a busy day. We tried different tires and types of set-up and I am very satisfied with some aspects. The first session was better than the second, maybe because the wind got up in the afternoon and we struggled a bit more to find the right reference points. Having spoken with the engineers, I believe that, nevertheless, we have understood where we have to improve and we will go in that direction. We have one more session in which we can put into practice the solutions that an analysis of the data suggests, in order to be ready for qualifying".

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “For the first day of free practice of the season, the most important part of the program was getting an understanding of the car and its behavior so as to prepare it for Saturday and Sunday. The track is very bumpy and today, the wind was very strong, which was inconvenient. The drivers are still looking for the right feeling with the car here. Now we just have to work on the set-up and get ready for qualifying".

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

MaxVerstappen
Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen (3rd, 1:23.400): "I'm quite happy about today and the feeling so far is pretty good. Of course, there are always areas to improve and we are not fast enough yet but it's only the first day of the season and there is a long way to go. It looks like Mercedes are very quick and they seem to be a little happier with the overall balance. In general, the car felt alright with medium and soft tires but we still need to fully understand the compounds. My running was also a little different to the others in terms of preparation and there is definitely some lap time in that. We will look at the data tonight and see what we can improve but from the engine side there were no problems and it all ran very smoothly. We had no expectations going into today and it's just good to get started."

Pierre Gasly (4th, 1:23.442): "It was great to be back on track for the first Free Practice of the season, and my first Friday at the track with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing was a special moment for me. It was a positive day, we tested a lot of things and my feeling in the car is getting better lap after lap. There's still work to be done but we're pretty happy with the package. We didn't have any expectations today, as after testing it's difficult to have a real idea of the pace of others. We managed to find some good direction for FP2 and I felt better in the car than I did in FP1. Let's see what we can do tomorrow. On the engine side, we had a small loss of power on the last lap and after some checks, it turned out to be a minor sensor issue."

Renault Sport Formula One Team

Nico Hulkenberg (7th, 1:23.574): "We recovered well today after a far from ideal first session. FP2 was good and consistent. I felt comfortable straight away in the car, which is one of the most important things for a driver. We're coming in to a different circuit to that of testing and it's such a contrasting track to get a feel for. I felt at home – happy as we can be at this stage – and we ran to our program as planned in FP2. Our long runs were good, but there is still a lot of data to analyze overnight before Qualifying tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo (8th, 1:23.644): "It was good to get the first day done. It's been a busy week with a big build-up so to get Friday practice completed is nice. We had some consistent running in FP2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run. We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we're getting there. For me, it's about developing the understanding of the car and we've made a good start on that today. Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it."

Nick Chester, Technical Director: "Overall, we have had a pretty good day to start the season. The earlier session was a little interrupted as we detected a software issue on Nico's car, which needed re-programming. Daniel was really just getting into it in his first practice with the team. We, however, improved the car between sessions and the second was very good. We looked to have reasonable pace on both the short and long runs; we still need to look through all the information, but we are reasonably happy with the opening day."

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team

Romain Grosjean (10th, 1:23.814):

Kevin Magnussen (12th, 1:23.988):

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal:

McLaren F1 Team

Carlos Sainz (14th, 1:24.133): "It's been a bit of a complicated day for us with a couple of chassis and engine issues which compromised our run plan. However, we were still able to do some valuable laps. We're still in the mix with the other teams in what we knew was always going to be a tight midfield. Hopefully we can work on the issues and we'll see what we can do tomorrow. We're not far from the top 10 and there's more to come from us – we certainly have a margin, but so does everyone else. Tomorrow will be interesting and is the day that counts, first quali of the season, and I really look forward to putting the car in a good position for Sunday."

Lando Norris (18th, 1:24.733): "We improved the car between sessions, and now have a direction in terms of where we go tomorrow on set-up and, importantly, have made progress. It's all about making small steps forward. Getting used to this track for the first time was my main focus in FP1. It's not an easy circuit, very bumpy and easy to lock-up. I was a lot more confident in FP2 and so looking ahead to FP3 I feel pretty comfortable."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "It was good to be out on the first Friday of the season and get it under our belts. As suspected from the Barcelona tests, it's a competitive field this year with very small differences in lap time but resulting in large changes in the rankings. From our side in general, we're relatively pleased with both sessions. We have work to do in order to improve the balance of the car. I'm sure tomorrow will provide the great Australian fans with an exciting and unpredictable qualifying session."

Racing Point F1 Team

Lance Stroll (13th, 1:24.011): "It's not easy to take too many conclusions from today's sessions. We ran through a big test program trying to understand the new aero parts, but it was quite windy and that always makes things a bit trickier. It is early days, but the midfield pack is very close together so every tenth is going to count in qualifying. We will go through the data tonight, work on a couple of weaknesses and come back stronger tomorrow. The car overall feels good, the ingredients are there, we just have to make a few adjustments and I think we can be right there in the fight."

Sergio Perez (16th, 1:24.401): "It's always a good feeling to be back in the car for the start of the season, but we are not yet where we want to be in terms of competitiveness. These first two sessions were quite difficult for me and I am not really happy with the balance of the car and the tires yet. We had many new parts on the car today and we still need to fully understand them, so we tried to come up with the best possible compromise for tomorrow. It's hard to know where we stand compared to the other teams after just one day of practice, but we know the midfield pack is very close so anything we can find overnight will be beneficial."

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "We've had a solid first day in Melbourne. We clocked up 119 laps, tried the three tire compounds available to us, and have enough data to help our decision making tonight. Track conditions were pretty reasonable from the start but the wind was strong throughout the day. One of the priorities was evaluating our new aero package and we split a number of test items across the cars. Early indications are encouraging but we still need to work through and understand all the information collected today. The middle of the grid looks very tight so maximizing qualifying is going to be especially important because overtaking is never easy around Albert Park."

Alfa Romeo Racing

Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 1:23.572): "We have a solid day of work behind us, there were no big issues. We still have some set-up work to do to improve the car, but overall it felt quite good. I look forward to qualifying tomorrow, behind the top teams anything is possible."

Antonio Giovinazzi (15th, 1:24.293): "Overall, the day was positive. The car felt good and I am happy with our performance, especially regarding the long-runs. I am excited to have started my first full race weekend and look forward to being back on track tomorrow."

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Daniil Kvyat (11th, 1:23.933): "Both free practice sessions today went well, we managed to run through our programs and complete quite a few laps, which is important around this circuit. The car felt good, I think we maximized our time on track and we just need to look into what we want to change overnight. I think there are still steps we can make to improve the car for tomorrow, so we'll try to work on that tonight."

Alexander Albon (17th, 1:24.675): "I'm still getting used to the timetable of an F1 weekend as well as to the car and the track. This circuit isn't easy, but I think our pace looks good so far and I'm slowly building up confidence. I took it a bit easier after the spin in FP1 and once I got back up to speed we went on with the program, trying a few more things on the car. Timesheet apart, we're looking pretty strong in a very tight midfield and now it's up to us to do our homework tonight to improve tomorrow."

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: "After a long winter away from the track, it's fantastic to be back for a race weekend again. Melbourne is always a busy one because you want to do as many laps as possible. With a new car and one new driver, we wanted to spend as much time as possible on the track in FP1. The track evolution is massive here, so it's often quite hard to learn from test items so, being mindful of this, we hadn't planned to do too much testing in the session. Alex spent the session acclimatizing himself with the car and track. Having underestimated the loss of grip with the tires coming up in temperature, he had a spin towards the end of the session – on such a track it's easy to hit the wall, so we elected to give the car a thorough check, which meant his session was only a little bit cut short. FP2 was a busy session, focusing on the two types of tires over the short runs and then the long runs. Dany's session was quite smooth, but I think it's fair to say we didn't fully get the most out of the option tire, so there's more time to come from him. As for Alex, on his first timed lap in Turn 11, due to a little glitch, he had to abort his flying lap. The tires don't perform as well after the first timed lap, so Alex's time isn't representative. It's massively tight in the midfield and only a couple of tenths of a second can make a big difference on the timesheets, so our focus tonight will be to analyze the data and to fine tune the car balance. Our long runs look fairly reasonable, and even though it's still early days, we're quite happy with our pace. All of us and the drivers need to get everything together tomorrow to extract every bit of performance for a good result in Qualifying."

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Finally we took to the track for the first race weekend of the season. Winter testing went quite smoothly for us and that continued in today's two free practice sessions."

ROKiT Williams Racing

George Russell (19th, 1:26.453): "It was great to get out on the track in Melbourne for the first time. It really is an amazing circuit. On my first lap when I went down into turn three it felt like I was flying as everything was so close together. However, we didn't have the best of days in terms of laptime, as we are a long way off the rest at the moment. We know what we are in for across the first few races so we need to focus on building on that and making sure come mid-season we have something better. Overall, it was an amazing experience, especially with all the fans around the circuit, it is something that I will remember for a long time."

Robert Kubica (20th, 1:26.655): "This morning was quite difficult for us with much less grip from the track. We know Australia is more bumpy and the surface is completely different to Barcelona. We struggled quite a lot with general grip; this afternoon the feeling was slightly better as conditions improved and also the temperatures helped us a bit. We have to try to get the maximum from what we have and it depends what that maximum will be. I think we cannot target much more so the realistic aim is to extract the maximum from what we have."

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "It was the first official on-track running of the new race season and we were able to complete our normal Friday program. We started to look at the tire behavior of the three different compounds in warm conditions and around what is essentially a street circuit; so quite different to the cold conditions we had in Barcelona. We continued to learn about the basics of the car, picking up from the work we did in Barcelona, as well as getting the two drivers used to driving around Albert Park. For George it was his first time driving in Melbourne, and for Robert his first time in a while. We are doing our basic homework so that we can get the most out of the car tomorrow and Sunday. It has been the first time that we have had both Robert and George driving at the same time, which has given us a chance to compare their feedback and gain an understanding of how they are interpreting the conditions. Their comments are in good agreement and as a result we have a clear list of things to work on tonight."

Practice 2 Results

POS DRIVER CAR TIME GAP LAPS
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m22.600s 0.000s 33
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m22.648s 0.048s 33
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1m23.400s 0.800s 33
4 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 1m23.442s 0.842s 31
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m23.473s 0.873s 35
6 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m23.572s 0.972s 40
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m23.574s 0.974s 37
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1m23.644s 1.044s 31
9 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m23.754s 1.154s 35
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m23.814s 1.214s 37
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 1m23.933s 1.333s 36
12 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m23.988s 1.388s 27
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1m24.011s 1.411s 38
14 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1m24.133s 1.533s 26
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1m24.293s 1.693s 37
16 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 1m24.401s 1.801s 34
17 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 1m24.675s 2.075s 40
18 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m24.733s 2.133s 26
19 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1m26.453s 3.853s 32
20 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 1m26.655s 4.055s 33

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