The First Friday Practice of the Season – Formula 1
Mercedes – Lewis Hamilton topped both practice sessions, however, Bottas planted 2 wheels on the grass and sild down an escape road as a result but redeemed himself in second practice.
Lewis Hamilton – “I have a positive buzz from driving the car today – this is what I love doing. We got through our programme really well, there were no issues on track. There’s plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start.”
Valtteri Bottas – “It’s nice to be back in a race car, doing the thing we love to do – I had fun today. The car felt better than it did in testing. It will be interesting to see what the first competitive session holds tomorrow.”
Technical Director, James Allison, – “It was a pretty productive day today, we achieved a decent balance with both drivers on both tyres. It’s way too early in the weekend to have any sort of real idea of where we stand on pace, but what we do know is that the car seems to be handling reasonably well and it seems to have good tyre degradation on both compounds that we ran which is a good sign for tomorrow, but we will only get a clear picture of where we stand later in the weekend.”
Ferrari – Vettel ran over the grass and his team mate spun towards the end of second practice.
Sebastian Vettel – “It was fun today. Maybe we were not as fast as possibly we wanted to be and could have been, but it’s Friday, after all, so it doesn’t really matter. We didn’t really get into the groove and into the rhythm, which is quite important round here on such a bumpy but I think that tomorrow will be a better day and if we can get that confidence back, then there’s a lot of lap time in that. The night is long and our engineers are very smart. I am relaxed.”
Charles Leclerc – ““It was definitely a busy day. We tried different tyres and types of set-up and I am very satisfied with some aspects. We have one more session in which we can put into practice the solutions that an analysis of the data suggests, in order to be ready for qualifying.”
Team Principle, Mattia Binotto, – “For the first day of free practice of the season, the most important part of the programme was getting an understanding of the car and its behaviour so as to prepare it for Saturday and Sunday. The track is very bumpy and today, the wind was very strong, which was inconvenient. The drivers are still looking for the right feeling with the car here. Now we just have to work on the set-up and get ready for qualifying.”
Redbull – Gasly had a quiet but efficient day however Verstappen struggled with traffic but still managed to be in the mix.
Max Verstappen – “I’m quite happy about today and the feeling so far is pretty good. Of course, there are always areas to improve and we are not fast enough yet but it’s only the first day of the season and there is a long way to go. We had no expectations going into today and it’s just good to get started.”
Pierre Gasly – “It was great to be back on track for the first Free Practice of the season, and my first Friday at the track with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing was a special moment for me. It was a positive day, we tested a lot of things and my feeling in the car is getting better lap after lap. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”
Renault – Due to an electronics issue, Nico Hulkenberg sat out most of first practice. Ricciardo didn’t set a representative lap time with seat-fit issues.
Nico Hulenberg – “We recovered well today after a far from ideal first session. FP2 was good and consistent. I felt comfortable straight away in the car, which is one of the most important things for a driver. Our long runs were good, but there is still a lot of data to analyse overnight before qualifying tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo – “It was good to get the first day done. For me, it’s about developing the understanding of the car and we’ve made a good start on that today. Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
Technical Director, Nick Chester, – “Overall, we have had a pretty good day to start the season. The earlier session was a little interrupted as we detected a software issue on Nico’s car, which needed re-programming. Daniel was really just getting into it in his first practice with the team. We, however, improved the car between sessions and the second was very good. We looked to have reasonable pace on both the short and long runs; we still need to look through all the information, but we are reasonably happy with the opening day.”
Hass – Grosjean had problems with gear syncing so spent time in the pits
Romain Grosjean – “This is a track I’ve always enjoyed driving, matched by the great atmosphere in the paddock. We’ll find out a bit more tomorrow, but I think for the first day, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.”
Kevin Magnussen – “It wasn’t too bad today. We’ll be working hard tonight, but there’s no big issues, we’re pretty happy with the performance in the car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Team Principle, Guenther Steiner, – “It was a solid day today. We did a lot of testing, and we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We still need to find a little bit more speed though. Hopefully tonight our guys can do a good job looking over all the information from today, so we can be ready for tomorrow.”
Alfa Romeo – Kimi Raikkonen finished 6th in both sessions but Antonio Giovinazzi took longer to get up to speed.
Kimi Raikkonen – “We have a solid day of work behind us, there were no big issues. I look forward to qualifying tomorrow, behind the top teams anything is possible.”
Antonio Giovinazzi – “I am excited to have started my first full race weekend and look forward to being back on track tomorrow.”
Racing point – Both drivers completed a full programme without running into any major issues.
Sergio Perez – “It’s always a good feeling to be back in the car for the start of the season, but we are not yet where we want to be in terms of competitiveness. These first two sessions were quite difficult for me and I am not really happy with the balance of the car and the tyres yet.”
Lance Stroll – “We ran through a big test programme trying to understand the new aero parts, but it was quite windy and that always makes things a bit trickier. The car overall feels good, the ingredients are there, we just have to make a few adjustments and I think we can be right there in the fight.”
CEO and Team Principle, Otmar Szafnauer, – “We’ve had a solid first day in Melbourne. We clocked up 119 laps, tried the three tyre compounds available to us, and have enough data to help our decision making tonight. The middle of the grid looks very tight so maximising qualifying is going to be especially important because overtaking is never easy around Albert Park.”
Toro Rosso – Daniil Kvyat looked competent but Albon spun into the barriers and damaged his front wing. He also spun out in FP2 but the car was not damaged.
Damiil Kvyat – “The car felt good, I think we maximised our time on track and we just need to look into what we want to change overnight.”
Alex Albon – “I took it a bit easier after the spin in FP1 and once I got back up to speed we went on with the programme, trying a few more things on the car.”
Chief Race Engineer, Jonathan Eddolls, – “Alex spent the session acclimatising himself with the car and track. Having underestimated the loss of grip with the tyres coming up in temperature, he had a spin towards the end of the session. Dany’s session was quite smooth, but I think it’s fair to say we didn’t fully get the most out of the option tyre, so there’s more time to come from him. As for Alex, on his first timed lap in Turn 11, due to a little glitch, he had to abort his flying lap. All of us and the drivers need to get everything together tomorrow to extract every bit of performance for a good result in Qualifying.”
McLaren – Finishing 18th, Norris struggled in both sessions and his team mate managed 14th.
Carlos Sainz – “It’s been a bit of a complicated day for us with a couple of chassis and engine issues which compromised our run plan. Hopefully we can work on the issues and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Lando Norris – “We improved the car between sessions, and now have a direction in terms of where we go tomorrow on set-up and, importantly, have made progress. It’s all about making small steps forward.”
Sporting Director, Gil De Ferran, – “As suspected from the Barcelona tests, it’s a competitive field this year with very small differences in lap time but resulting in large changes in the rankings. I’m sure tomorrow will provide the great Australian fans with an exciting and unpredictable qualifying session.”
Williams – Robert Kubica and George Russell managed pleanty of laps.
Robert Kubica – “This morning was quite difficult for us with much less grip from the track. We know Australia is more bumpy and the surface is completely different to Barcelona. I think we cannot target much more so the realistic aim is to extract the maximum from what we have.”
George Russell – “My first lap when I went down into turn three it felt like I was flying as everything was so close together. Overall, it was an amazing experience, especially with all the fans around the circuit, it is something that I will remember for a long time.”
Senior Race Engineer, Dave Robson, – “We started to look at the tyre behaviour of the three different compounds in warm conditions and around what is essentially a street circuit; so quite different to the cold conditions we had in Barcelona. Their comments are in good agreement and as a result we have a clear list of things to work on tonight.”
Head of F1 and Car Racing – “First and foremost, the events of this weekend are insignificant compared to the loss of Charlie Whiting yesterday, who leaves a massive void in the sport that is impossible to fill. Having worked so closely with him since we arrived in Formula 1, he will be greatly missed by all of us at Pirelli. There’s still plenty to come from this weekend, with past experience showing us that the circuit continues to evolve.”
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