The first grand prix of 2017 revealed F1’s new cars have gained even more performance in race trim than they have over a single lap.
While this year’s pole position time was 1.7 seconds faster than it was 12 months ago, the fastest lap of the race was 2.6 seconds quicker than we saw in 2016. However Kimi Raikkonen’s time of 1’26.538, set on the race’s penultimate lap, remains 2.4s off the race lap record set in 2004.
Nonetheless it is clear the regulations overhaul for 2017 has had a greater effect on races than it has on single-lap pace. Pirelli’s wider and harder tyres are giving the drivers more grip for longer.
Last year early race leader Nico Rosberg saw his lap times slow by 0.6 seconds between lap two and lap 11, at which point he pitted. But today Lewis Hamilton got quicker as his first stint went on, reducing his lap time by 1.5 seconds between lap two and lap 13.
And Hamilton didn’t have the best tyre life at the start of the race. Sebastian Vettel, who took over the lead when Hamilton pitted, stayed out until lap 22 at which point he was 1.2 seconds quicker than he had been 20 laps earlier.
This indicates Pirelli has met the objective it was set of reverting from the ‘high degradation’ tyres it introduced in 2011 to the more conventional racing tyres seen previously. The fastest racing lap today was 4.4 seconds slower than the pole position time, just as it was in the last Australian Grand Prix on Bridgestone tyres in 2010.
2017 Australian Grand Prix lap times
All the lap times by the drivers (in seconds, very slow laps excluded). Scroll to zoom, drag to pan and toggle drivers using the control below:
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2017 Australian Grand Prix fastest laps
Each driver’s fastest lap:
|Rank||Driver||Car||Fastest lap||Gap||On lap|
|4||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’26.711||0.173||51|
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’26.964||0.426||43|
|8||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’27.677||1.139||53|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’28.336||1.798||56|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||1’28.475||1.937||55|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1’29.447||2.909||21|
2017 Australian Grand Prix
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year
- Red Bull ran Verstappen’s car without a drinks bottle in Australia
- Renault fix Palmer’s Melbourne problems
- Melbourne win “doesn’t mean much” – Vettel
- Mercedes explain why 2017’s first race had so little passing