Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel by 0.038s in FP1

Lewis Hamilton topped the first free practice session of Formula 1 2019 for Mercedes, but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was just 0.038s behind.

Australian GP: Hamilton beats Vettel by 0.038s in FP1

Hamilton had warned that Mercedes faced a clear deficit to Ferrari in pre-season testing, but kicked off Friday afternoon’s first running in Melbourne as if it was business as usual. 

The five-time title winner set a 1m23.599s around the Albert Park circuit to head Vettel by 0.038s, with Charles Leclerc only 0.074s behind in his first grand prix session for Ferrari. 

Max Verstappen gave Red Bull and Honda an encouraging start to life together by clocking the fourth-best time, 0.193s off the pace. 

Mercedes spent almost all of FP1 on top, as Valtteri Bottas became the first frontrunner to set a meaningful time and head the leaderboard until Hamilton went quickest once the two switched from medium to soft tyres. 

Bottas’s soft-tyre run left him 0.267s slower than Hamilton and restricted him to fifth-fastest, but it could have been worse after a near-miss down an escape road. 

As he approached the penultimate corner, the Finn touched the grass on the outside and went straight on, locking up briefly and then booting the throttle to perform a neat pirouette – barely avoiding the barrier on the outside as his car swung round. 

New Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly failed to make the sort of impact as teammate Verstappen, and lapped 1.3s off the pace in eighth. 

That allowed Kimi Raikkonen to hold best-of-the-rest behind the big three, giving Alfa Romeo an early boost on its first grand prix weekend as a full entrant. 

However, Raikkonen was 1.2s off the pace, indicating the midfield group is no closer to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull than before. 

Gasly’s lack of pace in FP1 meant he also ended up behind his old team, Toro Rosso, and the driver he replaced at the Red Bull junior outfit in 2017 – Daniil Kvyat. 

The Russian, making his F1 comeback after a year as Ferrari development driver, set the seventh-best time and was only two-hundredths of a second slower than Raikkonen. 

His new teammate Alex Albon fared less well on his grand prix weekend debut, setting a respectable 13th-fastest time but causing a red flag when he nosed his car into the barriers on the exit of Turn 1 in the final half an hour. 

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken nose after spinning

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken nose after spinning

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

Haas was considered to be the midfield favourite after testing but Kevin Magnussen was only ninth-quickest in FP1, albeit only a tenth behind Raikkonen. 

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 after losing time early on to an “electronic error”. 

McLaren and Racing Point had a muted start to the season with its best drivers 14th (Carlos Sainz for McLaren) and 15th (Lance Stroll for Racing Point) respectively.

However, those teams were at least latched onto the back of the midfield group, whereas Williams was detached at the back of the field. 

Robert Kubica set the team’s quickest time but was 4.3s off the pace and a full two seconds slower than the next driver, McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Formula 2 champion George Russell ended FP1 slowest, 0.8s slower than teammate Kubica. 

It continues a troubling early 2019 for Williams, which was late to pre-season testing, has lost its chief technical officer Paddy Lowe and made changes to its car design to ensure its legality ahead of the weekend. 

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari looks on the Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari looks on the Mercedes AMG F1 W10
1/10

Photo by: Erik Junius

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W10
2/10

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
3/10

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
4/10

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken front nose after spinning with Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14 driving by

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14 with a broken front nose after spinning with Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14 driving by
5/10

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF90
6/10

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Robert Kubica, Williams FW42

Robert Kubica, Williams FW42
7/10

Photo by: Joe Portlock / Motorsport Images

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, leaves the garage

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, leaves the garage
8/10

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14, leads Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso STR14, leads Daniil Kvyat, Toro Roso STR14
9/10

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG W10
10/10

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Practice times:

Pos Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 26 1'23.599  
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 18 1'23.637 0.038
3 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 18 1'23.673 0.074
4 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 22 1'23.792 0.193
5 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 30 1'23.866 0.267
6 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 18 1'24.816 1.217
7 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Honda 30 1'24.832 1.233
8 France Pierre Gasly Red Bull Honda 23 1'24.932 1.333
9 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 24 1'24.934 1.335
10 Germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 11 1'25.015 1.416
11 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 23 1'25.166 1.567
12 France Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 18 1'25.224 1.625
13 Thailand Alex Albon Toro Rosso Honda 21 1'25.230 1.631
14 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren Renault 19 1'25.285 1.686
15 Canada Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 26 1'25.288 1.689
16 Mexico Sergio Perez Racing Point Mercedes 21 1'25.498 1.899
17 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Renault Renault 16 1'25.634 2.035
18 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Renault 31 1'25.966 2.367
19 Poland Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 25 1'27.914 4.315
20 United Kingdom George Russell Williams Mercedes 25 1'28.740 5.141
shares
comments
The changes that ensure the Williams is legal

Previous article

The changes that ensure the Williams is legal

Next article

Analysis: How Racing Point has upgraded its ‘vanilla’ F1 car

Analysis: How Racing Point has upgraded its ‘vanilla’ F1 car
Load comments
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Prime

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Prime

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Prime

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku Prime

The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Prime

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship.

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021
Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Azerbaijan Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An eventful weekend in Baku full of incident and drama lent the race result an unusual feel, as three drivers scored their first podiums of the year. But it wasn't the eventual race winner who scored top marks in our driver ratings

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021
How three drivers 'won' the Azerbaijan GP Prime

How three drivers 'won' the Azerbaijan GP

Formula 1's return to Baku after a year away had thrown up an eventful qualifying marred by four red flags, but the race appeared to be running to a familiar Red Bull vs Mercedes template entering the closing stages. That is, until a dramatic conclusion where victory was snatched away from two drivers, before landing in the lap of Sergio Perez

Formula 1
Jun 7, 2021