Nico Rosberg has completed the first day of new Formula 1 World Championship season with the upper hand as his Mercedes team continued to exercise its substantial advantage over the opposition.
Having both emerged more than a second faster than the competition in FP1, Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were once again the class of a depleted field in FP2, the pair moving ahead of early pace setter Sebastian Vettel with 40mins remaining with a 1min 27.697secs lap and keeping their rivals at arm's length.
Behind them, Ferrari emerged as 'best of the rest', with Sebastian Vettel settling into his new surroundings 0.715s behind Rosberg – the only driver to stay within a second of the Mercedes' – while Kimi Raikkonen completed Ferrari's positive day in fourth with Raikkonen just over four tenths slower than his team-mate.
|A sunny Friday in Melbourne|
Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top five for Williams 1.568s off the pace, ahead of Daniil Kvyat 2.319s off the pace, the Williams and Red Bull drivers forced to go solo in the afternoon after team-mates Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo were sidelined by technical issues. Both drivers required engines changes on their respective Mercedes and Renault-powered cars, leaving them on the back foot heading into Saturday.
On a difficult day for several teams, Toro Rosso had its own problems, with Max Verstappen completing just six laps, though Carlos Sainz survived a spin at the penultimate corner to go seventh best to complete a strong day for the Spanish rookie
Red Bull only ran one car thanks to the need for an ‘lemon’ Renault engine change on Daniel Ricciardo's machine.
The Manor Marussia F1 Team are back for the start of the 2015 Formula 1 season. A huge effort over the past few weeks has enabled the team to build a car that is compliant with the current regulations, but given the complexities involved in returning to the racetrack, they were unable to run in either of today’s Free Practice sessions.
Nico Rosberg It was great to be back in the car at this awesome track. Today we have the evidence that our Silver Arrow is quick again and it was a great start for the Team. I was very happy with my long run but on one lap I still need to work on the pace as I had a lot of oversteer in the car. It seems again that it's very close between Lewis and me and he is a great driver, so I need to nail the setup every time to come out on top. This year will be a big battle again against him, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to the first weekend of the new season with all the great fans out there.
Lewis Hamilton It feels great to be back on track and back into a race weekend. In general it's been a good first day. The teams back at the two factories have done an incredible job over the winter. To arrive here and have such good pace in the car for the second year in a row is an amazing feeling. But, naturally, as drivers we want to push the car to the edge and when you get to that limit it gets tricky. That's where it's our job to keep our heads down and really try to figure out how to maximize the setup and get the most out of the car. There's a little bit of work to do on my side as I'm not 100% comfortable with the car – but that's to be expected on the first day. Today seemed to confirm that we have pretty good pace. But there are still other quick cars out there and we can't go into tomorrow's sessions not thinking that they will be close.
Toto Wolff It was a good day. We need to keep our feet on the ground but it makes no sense to talk ourselves down: the performance is good and we look competitive. But it wasn't a seamless day, the drivers weren't too happy with the car on the final run, so we have some work to do overnight to find the sweet spot. Looking at the field, it will be close with Ferrari and Williams, too. Of course, we don't know fuel loads and don't know what engine modes were run, whether it was really spicy or if there is still more to come. Like always: when the flag drops, the bull**** stops. Let's see how it looks tomorrow.
Paddy Lowe Today was a good start to the season and we're happy to have successfully run through our program with no problems to report. We've had a look at the car on both high and low fuel and we've assessed the two available tire compounds – both of which seem to be performing well at this circuit. We've also got quite a few new configurations on the car so we've got quite a lot of homework to do tonight to make sure we've got the right setup for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow we have the first qualifying session of the new season – arguably the most important hour on the calendar, where we see the results of our hard work over the winter. It will be very interesting to see how the field lines up.
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: We picked up a lot of data on Valtteri’s car and completed all of the tests we had planned so it was a good day for him. Unfortunately our post FP1 inspection identified a water leak on the power unit of Felipe’s car. This required the power unit to be removed from the chassis to repair, which resulted in Felipe missing FP2. We didn’t have any other reliability issues with the car that are causing us concern. For us a Friday is not about making headlines or chasing laptime; we keep our heads down and diligently go about our business. That is exactly what we have done and I’m pleased to see that the team has picked up from where we left off in Abu Dhabi and worked well as a unit.
Valtteri Bottas: It was a very productive Friday; whilst Felipe was unlucky with a technical problem and lost some running, we managed to complete our run program and get as prepared as we can for qualifying and the race. Straight out of the box the car felt good; it was particularly good in the long runs and the tires felt consistent with not much drop off in performance. We can still find improvements in the short run pace and do more to unlock the tire performance over one lap, so that will be a focus in tomorrow’s third practice session.
Felipe Massa: It’s a bit disappointing to have only run in one session today; a water leak in the power unit required a repair. The more you run the more you understand the best direction to take with the set-up and what the track conditions are like, but at least I managed to get some valuable laps under my belt in the morning and the overall feeling from the car is positive. It’s also good to identify any problems early on rather than experiencing them in qualifying or the race.
DANIIL KVYAT Everything went quite well and according to plan today – everything felt good. We will do what we can tonight to prepare for tomorrow. It’s too early to see where we are compared to the others as yet – but we’ll see where we can improve overnight. Tomorrow we will know more.
DANIEL RICCIARDO "In FP1 it took us a while to get going and we didn’t get out straight away. A problem with the ICE meant we couldn’t run in FP2, but it’s a problem that we can fix for tomorrow. There’s a lot of time to do what we need, so there’s no concerns – it wasn’t worth rushing it to get five laps this afternoon. We don’t believe it will affect one of the four engines, so it’s not a massive shot in the foot. I will look at what Daniil learnt in FP2 to get a direction for tomorrow – the circuit felt pretty rubbered in already in the morning so I should be able to get up to speed tomorrow. I’ve got to get these ants out of my pants now – I’m hanging out to drive! It’s been a bit of a tease all week, talking about driving, and now I just want to get out there."
Carlos Sainz I’m happy with today, I had been waiting for this day for a very long time and it was definitely a decent first day. We covered a lot of mileage, which was obviously our target for today as I am a rookie and new to this circuit. I enjoyed it a lot out there. Now we need to go through all the data we gathered today and keep improving. I feel very comfortable in the car. It’s a challenging track, but I like it and all in all it’s been a positive day."
Max Verstappen This morning we were able to complete many laps and it was good for me to get used to the track. It was a useful first practice and I was able to understand the car a bit more. I also didn’t make any mistakes, so that was good. This afternoon unfortunately we were not able to spend much time out on track due to a battery issue. The team pushed very hard to send me out again but we ran out of time. It wasn’t the best end to the day, but we will check the data tonight and hopefully we can make the best out of tomorrow’s third and final practice session before my first ever qualifying session of the year.
Marcus Ericsson It was a decent start today, but a pity we had a mechanical issue that forced us to stop running in the middle of the session. I still managed to do one complete run on the medium tires during which I could improve my lap times and got a better feeling for the car, but I did not have the chance to test the soft tires. Overall, it is nice to be back in Australia.
Felipe Nasr The second free practice session was important for us. As it was my first time driving the track in Melbourne, I had to catch up with learning the circuit, but in general I am quite satisfied with the session. We were able see how the car is reacting and got some good data. Even from my side as well as on the car side, there is much we can do.
Romain Grosjean It feels great to get out on track and get some laps at Albert Park, especially with such a lovely day here. I was happy not just for the weather as the car feels pretty good and the whole team is very positive at the potential we have. Certainly missing much of the first session was not to plan, but we know the issue and I’ve every confidence we’ll have it sorted for tomorrow. It’s the kind of thing you encounter in the early season. The big plus is the car feels good and I think we should be able to go well this weekend.
Pastor Maldonado I was happy with my time in the car today and the E23 feels pretty strong. For sure, we missed some of the second session, but the issue was easy to diagnose so the team is working on a solution. As always for the first day of running here, the track was improving all the time, but we were able to run good evaluations between us so we have plenty of info for building on today’s work. Our post-session debriefs have been very promising so it’s great to start the season with a real positive vibe.
Will Stevens #28 It’s great to finally be here in Melbourne. With the challenges we’ve faced over the past few weeks, that in itself is a fantastic achievement. It was never going to be an easy task to get the cars out on track for the first time. We’ve had no pre-season testing, so we’re having to experience those challenges here in the field in a race weekend context. The guys are doing a great job so all we can do as drivers is be patient and support the team.
Roberto Merhi #98 Of course I was looking forward to my first experience of our car today, but we knew that getting out on track would not be an easy process. These things take time and everyone in the team is working incredibly hard, so we hope for a better day tomorrow. I’m really enjoying being with the team and the support from the fans has been incredible. It’s a special feeling being here for my first Grand Prix weekend, so I’m not too downhearted. We will get to where we need to be.
John Booth, Team Principal We have had to overcome numerous hurdles to get to the Australian Grand Prix, but the challenge did not end with our arrival here in Melbourne. This is effectively our first day of testing, and as we all know that is a less than straightforward experience for any team. The systems required to operate these cars are incredibly complex and this is the first time we have been able to begin the process of getting all the various elements of our operation and car package talking to each other. Only when that happens can you start to troubleshoot the various issues that every team encounters when you look to field a car for the first time. We are steadily working through that checklist and while it is disappointing that we haven’t been able to get the cars out in today’s free practice sessions, we are racers and will do our utmost to compete for all our fans and the people supporting us.
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull/Renault||1m30.016s||2.319s||27|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m30.071s||2.374s||41|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.473s||2.776s||30|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m30.980s||3.283s||32|
|14||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m31.395s||3.698s||6|
Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, Roberto Merhi and Will Steven did not turn a lap