Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in both of Friday’s Free Practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Formula One season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
In less than idea conditions the triple world champion set the fastest time of 1.38.841s during the second practice session ending up just 0.467s ahead of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India. Speaking following Friday’s on track action, Hamilton said:
That was a good day. The car performed well and although we didn’t get a huge number of laps in, they were still quite constructive sessions. I was lucky to get a couple of dry laps to get a tiny feeling for what the balance is like around here, which was down to some good work from the team to time my runs right. Generally, though, I’m just excited to be here and to get back in the car. When I was sitting in the garage, I felt like a kid waiting to open his presents at Christmas. Hopefully it’ll be a dry day tomorrow so we can get plenty of laps in and give something back to the fans who have braved the weather today.
While Hamilton had a great opening day, in contrast team mate Nico Rosberg’s afternoon was cut short as he hit the wall breaking the new front ring that the team had fitted to his W07.
The German tried to get the car back to the pit-lane but was told by the team under the instruction of the FIA to park the car at the side of the track meaning was unable to participate in the remaining session. Rosberg ended FP2 in 15th place and speaking afterwards he stated:
That wasn’t a good start to the weekend for me. It was very wet out there, which made it tricky. It’s a shame that I lost the car in P2. I just applied a little too much throttle through Turn 7, spun round and touched the wall. My front wing was quite damaged, so unfortunately the boys will have some extra work to do tonight. My apologies go to them and a big thank you for their hard work. I’m now looking forwards towards qualifying and the race to put in a better performance
Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe stated:
A bit of a frustrating day, which is unfortunate for the first day of the season and for the fans in particular. At best, we managed to string one or two sectors together on a track which was only ever dry in certain places. Then, in FP2, Nico just lost the back end of the car and collided with the wall, so not the best day overall. Fortunately it wasn’t too major. The front wing was damaged and we’ve replaced the left front corner as a precaution – but nothing that will affect him over the rest of the weekend. We have a lot of work to do in FP3 tomorrow to prepare for qualifying and the race – but it’s the same for everybody. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all plays out and hoping for some dry weather.