Five-times World Champion Lewis Hamilton dominated Friday practice at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, topping the timesheets for Mercedes in both sessions, as his rival Sebastian Vettel was left underwhelmed by Ferrari’s performance.
After pipping Vettel with a lap of one minute 23.599 seconds in the first practice, Hamilton shaved almost a second off that in FP2, his quickest lap clocked at 1:22.600.
Hamilton was under no illusions that he was suddenly odds on for victory in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Brit believes that the fight between Mercedes and their rivals will be much, much closer come qualifying.
“If you look today at how close it is, even the mid-pack are really close, so I would say even more than ever before there’s even less margin for error,” said Hamilton. “That’s how it’s supposed to be, that’s what we get paid the big bucks to do is to pull out those milliseconds to try and make the difference so I’m super stoked and excited for what’s to come.”
“I really have a positive buzz from driving the car today,” he said. “These new cars – the flow is unbelievable. It’s how Formula 1 cars are supposed to be when they’re wide and they’re big.”
“I don’t think we’ve seen all of the cards from any team yet honestly,” he said. “We know how much we can improve for the qualifying and for the race, [but] we have no clue how much the others can. You know Ferrari, they were very strong in winter testing. I don’t think their speed has somehow disappeared, so for sure they were testing something different and we’ll find out tomorrow.”