Lewis Hamilton began the 2016 season on top of the times sheets as occasional showers kept drivers on their toes during the first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver exploited one of the best opportunities to set a time on dry-weather tyres to set a 1’29.725. The less than ideal conditions meant lap times were slightly down on the same session from 12 months earlier.
Team mate Nico Rosberg ended the session two second adrift with four cars separating him from his team mate. The two Red Bull drivers were closest to Hamilton, Daniiil Kvyat the only driver to get within half a second of the number 44 car.
Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest but ended the session in the gravel trap at turn 12 after another late rain shower. The slippery track also caught out Valtteri Bottas and Rio Haryanto, though both were able to continue.
Sebastian Vettel, who was the first driver to take to the track when the session began, aborted his final attempt to set a time when the conditions deteriorated. He therefore failed to set a time as did Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr, who was delayed by a technical problem during the session.
The team’s other car appeared inside the top five courtesy of Max Verstappen, who was three-tenths of a second off Nico Hulkenerg.
The top ten was completed by the McLaren pair plus the second Force India of Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen’s Renault.
First practice visual gaps
Lewis Hamilton – 1’29.725
+0.421 Daniil Kvyat – 1’30.146
+1.150 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’30.875
+1.600 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’31.325
+1.995 Max Verstappen – 1’31.720
+2.089 Nico Rosberg – 1’31.814
+3.335 Fernando Alonso – 1’33.060
+3.645 Sergio Perez – 1’33.370
+4.335 Kevin Magnussen – 1’34.060
+4.825 Valtteri Bottas – 1’34.550
+4.954 Felipe Massa – 1’34.679
+5.071 Felipe Nasr – 1’34.796
+5.752 Jolyon Palmer – 1’35.477
+8.231 Marcus Ericsson – 1’37.956
Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.
2016 Australian Grand Prix
- Elimination qualifying officially replaced by 2015 format
- Halo would have been “welcome” in crash – Alonso
- Alonso takes new power unit after crash
- Third Driver of the Weekend win for Grosjean
- F1 enjoys best season-opening race since 2009
2016 F1 practice sessions
- Errors leave Hamilton behind Rosberg in final practice
- Rosberg edges Hamilton in second practice
- Mercedes comfortably ahead in first practice
- Two stoppages can’t keep Hamilton from top spot
- Mercedes wrap up Friday practice with almost a second in hand