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Hamilton edges Vettel by 0.038s in opening practice

Mat Coch

Friday 15th March, 2019 - 1:53pm

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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton ended the opening practice session of the 2019 Formula 1 season fastest but it was a close run thing against both Ferraris.

Hamilton banked a time in the final third of the session to take him to the top, before first Charles Leclerc and then Sebastian Vettel responded to leave the trio split by less than a tenth of a second.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth best from Valtteri Bottas while Daniel Ricciardo ended the session just 17th and more than two seconds off the pace in his Renault.

It was a tough session for Renault, with Nico Hulkenberg sitting out much of it with an electrical issue, the German only emerging for any meaningful running with 20 minutes to run. He was able to snare a time good enough for 10th spot.

A single red flag was shown when Alexander Albon spun his Toro Rosso at the second corner, clouting the wall with the rear wing which whipped the front of the car into the wall and plucked off the front wing.

Robert Kubica battled with his Williams early, wrestling to get the car turned in early and even taking a tour over the grass at Turn 2.

There was a moment for George Russsell in the sister car too, the debutant told to stop his car in pit lane so the team could drag it back to the garage.

The two Williams drivers ended the session slowest of anyone, Kubica 19th and 4.3 seconds off Hamilton’s pace, and Russell another eight tenths back.

Bottas had a moment in the closing stages, grabbing a wheel full of grass under braking into the penultimate corner and running up the escape road.

The Finn had headed the session for much of the running, with Verstappen within touching distance until the Mercedes pair lifted the pace.

Having kept their powder dry for much of the session, Leclerc gave a glimpse of Ferrari’s hand with 25 minutes to run, banking a 1:23.673s to all but match Hamilton’s best of the session.

His effort was swiftly followed by Vettel who was 0.038s off Hamilton’s best to slot in narrowly ahead of his team-mate.

Hulkenberg finally emerged following the red flag for Albon, quickly moving beyond Ricciardo despite his reduced running.

Second practice for the Australian Grand Prix takes place at 1600 AEDT.

Results: Australian Grand Prix, Practice 1

Pos Num Driver Team Time Diff Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:23.599 26
2 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:23.637 +0.038s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:23.673 +0.074s 18
4 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:23.792 +0.193s 22
5 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:23.866 +0.267s 30
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:24.816 +1.217s 18
7 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:24.832 +1.233s 30
8 10 Pierre Gasly RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:24.932 +1.333s 23
9 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:24.934 +1.335s 24
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 1:25.015 +1.416s 11
11 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:25.166 +1.567s 23
12 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:25.224 +1.625s 18
13 23 Alexander Albon SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 1:25.230 +1.631s 21
14 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 1:25.285 +1.686s 19
15 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 1:25.288 +1.689s 26
16 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 1:25.498 +1.899s 21
17 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 1:25.634 +2.035s 16
18 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 1:25.966 +2.367s 31
19 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:27.914 +4.315s 25
20 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:28.740 +5.141s 25

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