Hamilton feeling very positive after topping practice

Sherman Parsons
March 16, 2019

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel sounded an early alarm bell for Ferrari at Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, saying he was lacking confidence in his vehicle after a disappointing run in Friday practice.

Norris was clearly keen to get his eye in at Albert Park, completing 31 laps with a fastest time of one minute 25.966 seconds for 18th place, while Russell was five seconds off the pace in 20th with a time of one minute 28.740 seconds.

The Briton edged teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.048 seconds but had a yawning 0.800-second gap to the Red Bull of third-fastest Max Verstappen, with Vettel further adrift with the fifth-quickest time.

Gasly was 0.031s ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari not displaying the sort of pace it seemed capable of in pre-season testing.

It was a more encouraging session for Kimi Raikkonen and Alfa Romeo, the team formerly known as Sauber.

Renault struggled during the session under blue skies in Melbourne, an electrical problem consigning Hulkenberg to the pits for the majority of the session and Daniel Ricciardo struggling to find pace on his home track with a deficit of two seconds behind Hamilton.

"I really have a positive buzz from driving the vehicle today. The vehicle feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track", said Hamilton. "So, in the end we're racing for Ferrari and that means we try to get Ferrari back to where we've been trying to get it back to for the last couple of years". There's plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start.

Hamilton is gunning for a third world crown in a row to close in on Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven.

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But all the ability in the world can't mask the fact the vehicle just isn't good enough.

"We didn't bring a lot of new parts to the vehicle, but we were able to optimise the package that we have". Are the red cars keeping something in reserve for qualifying and the race?

Vettel slid onto the grass at turn one early in the afternoon run.

And for Ferrari new team principal Mattia Binotto said the priority would be Vettel in "particular situations". "It was a bit of a time delay, but I could tell that everyone was getting a bit frustrated". Not so much in terms of lap time but more in terms of auto feel and handling.

"If we can get that confidence and that groove back, there is a lot of lap time in that around here", he added.

The other rookie, British-born Thai Alexander Albon, had a hard first day.

It was a tricky second session for the inexperienced drivers, with Alexander Albon again making errors after his crash in FP1.

The German won the opening race of the season in Melbourne past year and backed it up with victory at the next in Bahrain.

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