Mercedes lead Red Bull as lap times tumble in Melbourne

2017 Australian Grand Prix

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There was one big change at the top of the timing screens in the first practice session of 2017 but one thing stayed the same: two Mercedes cars were at the top.

Lap times, however, were substantially quicker than they were 12 months ago. Lewis Hamilton posted the best effort with a 1’24.220 on ultra-soft tyres, five-and-a-half seconds quicker than in the same session last year, which had been slightly damp.

Australian Grand Prix Friday practice in pictures
New team mate Valtteri Bottas backed him up but more than half a second separated the two W08s. They were followed by a pair of Red Bulls on super-softs, home favourite Daniel Ricciardo getting within a tenth of a second of Bottas.

Ferrari gave little sign of their pre-season testing pace as they spent much of the first session in the pits. Kimi Raikkonen eventually emerged to set their best of 1`25.372 on the super-softs, 1.1 seconds off the Mercedes.

Team mate Sebastian Vettel was a tenth of a second behind him but reported a possible problem with his car in the final laps. Vettel headed back to the garage with a suspected MGU-K problem ten minutes before the chequered flag fell.

They weren’t the only team to experience teething trouble in the first official practice session of the year. Esteban Ocon spent the opening minutes stuck in the Force India pit with a brake problem. And a seal fault ended Jolyon Palmer’s session after half-a-dozen laps in his Renault.

Mercedes-powered cars occupied three of the remaining four places inside the top ten, led by Felipe Massa’s Williams. Lance Stroll had the honour of setting the first official lap time of 2017, and ended the session half a second off his more experienced team mate.

Romain Grosjean got his similarly-engined Haas within a second of the Ferraris and ahead of both Force Indias. But the T-wing on his VF-17 was vibrating noticeably at times.

Fernando Alonso gave some encouragement for McLaren by lapping within three seconds of the best time. But further gains are expected when the cars return to the track this afternoon.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’24.22022
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’24.8030.58325
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’24.8860.66619
433Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’25.2461.02619
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’25.3721.15216
65Sebastian VettelFerrari1’25.4641.24410
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’26.1421.92228
88Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’26.1681.94820
927Nico HulkenbergRenault1’26.1831.96315
1011Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’26.2762.05629
1155Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’26.4502.23024
1226Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’26.5142.29425
1318Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’26.7342.51429
1414Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’27.1162.89618
159Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’27.3483.12830
1631Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’27.6563.43623
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’27.6673.44720
1894Pascal WehrleinSauber-Ferrari1’28.5394.31922
1930Jolyon PalmerRenault1’28.5854.3656
202Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Honda1’28.6954.47514

First practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’24.220

+0.583 Valtteri Bottas – 1’24.803

+0.666 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’24.886

+1.026 Max Verstappen – 1’25.246

+1.152 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’25.372

+1.244 Sebastian Vettel – 1’25.464

+1.922 Felipe Massa – 1’26.142

+1.948 Romain Grosjean – 1’26.168

+1.963 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’26.183

+2.056 Sergio Perez – 1’26.276

+2.230 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’26.450

+2.294 Daniil Kvyat – 1’26.514

+2.514 Lance Stroll – 1’26.734

+2.896 Fernando Alonso – 1’27.116

+3.128 Marcus Ericsson – 1’27.348

+3.436 Esteban Ocon – 1’27.656

+3.447 Kevin Magnussen – 1’27.667

+4.319 Pascal Wehrlein – 1’28.539

+4.365 Jolyon Palmer – 1’28.585

+4.475 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’28.695

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Mercedes lead Red Bull as lap times tumble in Melbourne”

  1. I have no idea….getting quite excited though….

    Still not used to seeing Bottas’ name paired with a Merc and near the top of a time sheet.

  2. Still hard to say which team has got it right just yet. And the times set seem too conservative.

  3. Do you have the sector times? Are ferrari lifting in the last sector, or slower through the high speed chicane.

  4. I would just like to point out the standing record for Albert Park is a 1:24.125 by MSC in 2004

    1. I believe that was set during the race, however the overall fastest lap (pole) was set by Vettel in 2011 a 1.23″529

      1. Yes but if we are that close after the first session, unless the weather turns its going to be crushed.

    2. Wasn’t it Seb Vettel with a 1:23.529 (Q2 in 2011) @memorablec?

      1. Lap records are set during the race.

  5. While the performance & extra speed is kinda cool I feel that some of the drama is gone with these new cars as they all look like there on rails & look quite a bit easier to drive than in the past from the on car cameras.

    it was noted on commentary that we were not seeing any brake locking or cars sliding about….. it just all looks really easy with all this extra grip they have now, back to the 2004 days where they looked on rails with all the driver aids.

    1. In 2004 they looked on rails but the onboards showed a different reality. They were fighting the car hard!

    2. It looks easy to us viewers but, the drivers are working harder. They have a car they can plant firmly into the corners but, I guarantee they are feeling it.

  6. Mercedes were the only team to run on ultrasofts…

    1. They’ve now all ran the ultra softs, nothing’s changed.

  7. I was so happy when Alonso changed his helmet color, now his light blue one looks absolutely HIDEOUS in a orange car.

    1. @mashiat OMG, I know right! And how could he wear that top with those trousers. Didn’t he wear those shoes in Barcelona, the first test? Oh how he needs a new stylist as well as a car!

      1. @psynrg Perhaps you should calm down with that sarcasm.

        1. @mashiat Sarcasm? I thought we were engaging in the all important topic of aesthetics :(

          1. LOL! You guys!

          2. Thanks guys! Made me laugh.

    2. Fernando is trying to help McLaren land sponsorship from Howard Johnsons.
      If you’re under 40 and not familiar with U.S. “culture” just google Howard Johnsons restaurants.

  8. 2nd and third are Ferrari, and 4th and 5th are Red Bull Racing.

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