Formula 1

Hamilton Dominates Friday Free Practice

Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off last season, scoring the fastest times in both free practice sessions ahead of the inaugural race of the 2016 F1 season.

Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off last season, scoring the fastest times in both free practice sessions ahead of the inaugural race of the 2016 F1 season.

Hamilton managed to secure the fastest time in both free practice 1 and free practice 2 at a rain affected Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. The first time, a 1:29.725, was the only sub 1.30.00 time of the day, completed on slick tyres. For free practice two he set a 1:38.841 on the intermediate tyres. As Hamilton finished setting this time, the rain fell once again; meaning teams did not have the chance to go out and improve their time.

There were plenty of incidents up and down the field during the practice sessions. The Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen suffered a spin in the first practice session. The young Dutchman had been pushing just a little too hard, a little too soon and clipped a wet curb. Sending him into a spin at turn six. He wasn’t the only Red Bull family member to suffer. Home grown talent Daniel Riccardo was able to go third fastest behind his team mate in the first session. But effectively Riccardo ended this session when he beached his new RB12 in the gravel at the end. The Williams of Valtteri Bottas also suffered a hairy moment, going off and into the gravel in free practise one, though unlike Riccardo he kept it going. Meanwhile it wasn’t an ideal first session for rookie Rio Haryanto, who had two near misses; including a moment where he was dancing through the sand at turn 6.

But perhaps the costliest mistake of the two sessions came from Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg, who lost control of his car in the second practice session and crashed into a wall. Damaging the nose of his car. “I accelerated too much and lost the car,” Rosberg admitted in an interview after the incident. “That was not good for sure. Good for me the track didn’t dry out.”

Team Principal Toto Wolff was quick to defend Nico’s actions. “Nico was a bit unlucky. He did not have a lot of running in the first session and then when he tried to compensate for that he ended up in the wall. Lewis had a good day.”

The two sessions threw up some positive results for the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso. With the pair of them getting the seventh and eight fastest times in the first session, before each going one place better in the second session, with sixth and seventh. They were not the only team to have some positive running despite the weather, as Red Bull went second and third fastest in the first practice session. While Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen showed off their pace, and got the second and third fastest time in the second practice session.
Though the lack of dry running is still leaving many unsure of the pecking order right now, one thing is clear. Mercedes still seem to be on top. The lack of dry running also produced other issues for the teams in terms of usable data. This weekend sees two noteworthy changes coming into the structure of Formula 1, resulting in some headaches for the teams about their strategy for the weekend.

The first, and possibly most noticeable, is the clamp down on team to driver radio messages. The governing body of the sport, the FIA, have produced a list of 24 permitted message subjects. Anything outside that will be treated as an offence, with penalties to be decided by the race stewards. Secondly, there is changes to the format of qualifying for this season. With the introduction of elimination style qualifying.

As a result, many teams were hoping for dry running today to get good data ahead of tomorrow’s final free practice session and first elimination style qualifying.

Free Practice 1 Results
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:29.725
2. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:30.146
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:30.875
4. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:31.325
5. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:31.720
6. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:31.814
7. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:33.060
8. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:33.129
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:33.370
10. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:34.060
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:34.550
12. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:34.679
13. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:34.796
14. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:35.477
15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:37.956
16. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:40.401
17. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:40.754
18. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:41.780
19. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:43.372
20. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:43.443
21. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, No time
22. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, No time

Free Practice 2 results
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:38.841
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:39.308
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:39.486
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:39.535
5. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:39.694
6. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:39.895
7. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:40.008
8. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:40.761
9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:41.256
10. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:42.411
11. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:42.981
12. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:43.401
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:43.731
14. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:44.304
15. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:47.356
16. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, No time
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, No time
18. Felipe Massa, Williams, No time
19. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, No time
20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, No time
21. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, No time
22. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, No time

Feature Image Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas press release

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