Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton quickest in observe forward of F1 season opener

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Lewis Hamilton started the defence of his Components One world championship in emphatic model by finishing a observe double on the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

F1 roared again into life at a sun-drenched Albert Park in Melbourne with Hamilton odds-on to observe up his triumph from final season by successful a fifth crown.

And the British driver, additionally bidding to turn out to be solely the third man in F1 historical past to win the title greater than 4 occasions, delivered on his tag as favorite by sending out an ominous warning to his rivals.

The 33-year-old completed greater than half a second away from the sphere in opening observe, earlier than hovering again to the highest of the time-sheets on Friday afternoon.

There was some encouragement for the chasing pack, nonetheless, with Pink Bull’s Max Verstappen solely zero.127 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s finest time within the second session.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had been additional again in third and fourth, whereas Sebastian Vettel was half a second shy of his rival in fifth.

However it’s Hamilton, after vowing to dominate the opening grand prix of the brand new marketing campaign, who holds the benefit heading into the opening qualifying session of the season on Saturday.

McLaren’s pre-season marketing campaign was blighted by a collection of reliability issues, and the British crew endured a gradual begin to their weekend after additional mechanical points.

The swap from Honda to Renault energy is ready to usher in a brand new daybreak for McLaren, however it appeared a case of historical past repeating after Fernando Alonso spent nearly all of the opening 90 minutes redundant within the McLaren storage following an exhaust subject.

The 36-year-old Spaniard lastly emerged with somewhat greater than 20 minutes to go, and set the eighth quickest time. He was eighth within the second session, too, 1.three seconds slower than Hamilton.

Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne, who was additionally absent from a lot of the morning working following the same exhaust drawback, loved a trouble-free afternoon and completed 10th, a lot to the aid of the McLaren hierarchy.

Elsewhere, house favorite Daniel Ricciardo was solely seventh within the order following a difficulty along with his entrance suspension, whereas American crew Haas constructed on their spectacular pre-season type with Romain Grosjean sixth and Kevin Magnussen ninth.

The short-term monitor across the Albert Park lake bathed in sunshine on Friday, however the the rest of the weekend could possibly be interrupted by unpredictable climate, with showers forecast to hit throughout each qualifying and the race.

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