Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes first free practice session
By: S.Harding, Xiro Xone News March 24, 2017 Updated: 9:58 PM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton kicks off the 2017 F1 season taking the top spot in the first practice session at Albert Park in Melbourne, Austraila.
Hamilton finished with a time of 1:24.220 and was 0.583s ahead of new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas using the ultra-soft tire. Bottas, who had a strong start, finished with a time of 1:24.803.
"I’m super happy to be back in the car – particularly after the first day like that. It was 99 percent perfect. After struggling with some issues in Barcelona, we didn’t know if we’d have the same thing here. What’s really encouraging is that we’ve arrived at the track just a week later and the car is exactly where it should be.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished third on home soil with a time of 1:24.886 ahead of teammate Max Verstappen, who finished with a 1:24. 246; both men were on the super-soft tire," said Hamilton.
"We still have work to do with the car balance but we got all of our running completed without any issues. From my side I definitely feel like I can make a step forward tomorrow," said Bottas.
Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, both ran the super-soft tire and ended the day fifth and sixth. Vettel spent some time in the garage as the team had to fix a DRS system issue.
"it is always difficult to say much," said Vettel. "Anyway, it was nice to be back in the cockpit again. In the first session, we had a few small problems which slowed us down a bit
Fresh from a short retirement Williams' Felipe Massa took seventh ahead of Haas's Romain Grosjean in eighth while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg, ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez, finished 10th. Force India have become the talk of the grid this weekend with their bold new livery.
"The car felt much nicer than in winter testing, which is great. It’s good to be here and put the right setup on the car and go out there and have some fun. We more or less did the program we expected to do today, which is surprising for a first day in Australia," said Grosjean.
Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz took 11th with a 1:26.450, just ahead of teammate Daniil Kvyat and F1 rookie Lance Stroll for Williams.
McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso finished the day 14th with new teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in 15th.