Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2018

Hamilton leads Verstappen as Mercedes’ rivals close the gap

2018 Australian Grand Prix second practice

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Lewis Hamilton stayed on top in the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix but Mercedes’ rivals were much closer.

Max Verstappen separated Hamilton from team mate Bottas at the top of the times with a best effort which was just over a tenth of a second slower. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo was seventh-fastest after his flying lap on ultra-soft tyres was interrupted by a red flag, caused by a stray wire on the start/finish line.

Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Albert Park, 2018
Australian Grand Prix practice in pictures
Both Mercedes appeared in the top three although Valtteri Bottas had a couple of off-track moments. The first occured at turn three when he came across Kimi Raikkonen, the second at turn one.

Raikkonen led the two Ferraris, lapping within three-tenths of a second of Hamilton on his best run. The team’s performance was underlined by engine customers Haas, who managed the next-best time of any team thanks to Romain Grosjean. The other VF-18 also featured inside the top 10.

The McLarens ended second practice in the same positions they occupied a few hours earlier: Fernando Alonso eighth, Stoffel Vandoorne 10th. Alonso complained about other drivers neglecting to use their mirrors at one stage early in the session.

Carlos Sainz Jnr missed out on a place inside the top 10 and had Sergio Perez’s Force India close behind. Lance Stroll was the quicker of the two Williams drivers in 14th but his car came to a stop on his return to the pits after the session.

There was little to choose between the Toro Rossos in 16th and 17th. Nine of the 10 teams down to Sergey Sirotkin’s Williams in 18th place were covered by two seconds, with Sauber a further eight-tenths behind.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’23.93135
233Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’24.0580.12734
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1’24.1590.22834
47Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’24.2140.28339
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1’24.4510.52038
68Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’24.6480.71734
73Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’24.7210.79028
814Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’25.2001.26928
920Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’25.2461.31530
102Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren-Renault1’25.2851.35433
1155Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’25.3901.45935
1211Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’25.4131.48230
1327Nico HulkenbergRenault1’25.4631.53235
1418Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’25.5431.61232
1531Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’25.8881.95733
1628Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’25.9251.99441
1710Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’25.9452.01439
1835Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’25.9742.04337
199Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’26.8142.88331
2016Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’26.8152.88435

Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’23.931

+0.127 Max Verstappen – 1’24.058

+0.228 Valtteri Bottas – 1’24.159

+0.283 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’24.214

+0.520 Sebastian Vettel – 1’24.451

+0.717 Romain Grosjean – 1’24.648

+0.790 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’24.721

+1.269 Fernando Alonso – 1’25.200

+1.315 Kevin Magnussen – 1’25.246

+1.354 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’25.285

+1.459 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’25.390

+1.482 Sergio Perez – 1’25.413

+1.532 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’25.463

+1.612 Lance Stroll – 1’25.543

+1.957 Esteban Ocon – 1’25.888

+1.994 Brendon Hartley – 1’25.925

+2.014 Pierre Gasly – 1’25.945

+2.043 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’25.974

+2.883 Marcus Ericsson – 1’26.814

+2.884 Charles Leclerc – 1’26.815

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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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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134 comments on “Hamilton leads Verstappen as Mercedes’ rivals close the gap”

  1. Still early days, but this doesn’t look to be good news. Sure Red Bull got close, but come Q3 it will be a Merc 1-2, and even if the Red Bull in good enough on race day, Bottas will hold them up while Hamilton races into a 15s lead. Haas has been mighty impressive though. It would be quite an achievement for them to be quicker than both McLaren and Renault.

    1. Maybe Ham will hold them off while Bottas rides into a 15secs lead…

      1. haha, good one!

      2. @lums that was good, i enjoyed that. needed a chuckle

    2. Pole last year was a 1:22.1, and if the cars this year are about 1-1.5s quicker, these laps are about 3 seconds off the pace. Don’t read too much into it.
      Although, I am an optimist, and am trying to convince myself we’ll actually have a proper title fight…

      1. @hugh11 also, with only 3 engines per season, the only meaningful times this year will be qualis and races.

  2. its only practice, wait until qualifying to see what the cars are really like.

    1. Unfortunately there is this feeling of inevitability about this season, and we are only two practice sessions in. Most of us already know deep inside that Hamilton and Mercedes are going to win this season, even if the optimists don’t want to admit and want to pretend like the competition is very close.

      This is unfortunately why F1 is a dying sport that is losing view figures rapidly, it’s simply too predictable.

      1. @kingshark, viewing figures have been declining for far longer – in some markets, such as Italy, viewing figures have been in decline for close to 20 years now, whilst on a global scale the decline has been going on for at least a decade, if not longer. Even relatively chaotic championships like 2010, where there were multiple drivers in contention for the title in the last race, saw ratings fall in those years.

        What you are also overlooking is that, on a wider level, the trends for TV viewing figures for sporting events is broadly on a downward trend – even competitions such as the Premier League, which for so long seemed to be immune, has now reported consistent declines in viewing figures in recent years.

        It’s been pointed out that this is probably, in part, because most, if not all, sports series only count TV viewing figures, even though TV viewing figures for those under the age of 35 have dropped significantly as people switch to cheaper online services that offer streaming packages or highlights packages. There is therefore also a question of how many fans F1, and indeed sports events as a whole, have really lost, and how many of those fans have then turned to other means of watching the sport that are being excluded from the official statistics.

      2. Spot on. Some people’s heads have been in the clouds thinking the competition will be close this year. The best chance to stop Mercedes was last year. Opportunity missed. Mercedes should have all the titles in the bag until 2020 unless something goes disastrously wrong for them.

      3. Probably right, but for me the spectacle is in the midfield packs. DGAF about the front 4 unless it’s not red or silver.

      4. @kingshark Together with the three engine rule and what I’ve seen so far I’m fairly sure Hamilton win will this season. To the point I’m amazed betting agencies are still taking bets… I’m not expecting much Ferrari/Red Bull wins honestly.

        Here’s a fun question while we’re at it: Will we see more McLaren podiums or more Red Bull/Ferrari wins?

        1. @flatsix More RBR/Ferrari wins. It would be unrealistic to expect that Mac have suddenly made such a giant leap in year one with a new pu marriage, and it would be an historic feat in the annals of F1 if they did, no question. But I’m assuming on average Ferrari and RBR will be closer to Merc, so I indeed expect at least as many wins from those two teams as last year. I can see Bottas being displaced more by Max and Seb particularly.

      5. @kingshark I think it is easy to feel that way, but in fairness is that not because Mercedes are indeed the defending Champs? Was anybody saying since last year that Mercedes wouldn’t be strong this year too?

        What goes against what you are saying, and the proof is in what we saw last year, is that they don’t hand out the Championship trophies after two practice sessions of race one. There’s a good possibility that indeed Ferrari and RBR are closer on average to Merc due to the rules stability, and last year SV lead the first half of the season. We know for a fact that not all cars are as strong at all circuits.

        Anyway, for now as far as I know they’re going to run all the races and let the math dictate who the Champions will be, so I’m gonna wait for that and in the meantime see how the season factually unfolds, rather than assuming doom and gloom before they’ve run one race.

  3. McLaren are only 7tenth quicker than Toro Rosso. It seems that in this free practice Renault and Honda were equal in terms of power. I hope that Renault wasn’t using all the power they can deploy.

    1. I hope Honda weren’t using all the power they could have deployed.

    2. Last year the Honda qualified just 4 tenths behind the fastest Renault…

      So it looks like either Honda have got worse or Renault have got better. (If we take these times to be representative)

      1. Nope, Toro Rosso simply has a worse chassis than McLaren or Renault.

        1. If you say so…

          1. Let’s see if STR/Honda can finish the race while racing in anger in the heat, with any kind of notable pace. So far in testing and yesterday’s practice they have shown reliability, but not pace. McHonda had to keep it cranked down if they wanted to finish too. That said, it would be quite surprising or even shocking if Honda hasn’t at least finally made some (at least small) positive steps in year four of their effort.

          2. Indeed. In fact STR qualified in 8 and 9th last year (Probably actually the 9th and 10th fastest as ricciardo had to retire during Q3). Alonso qualified in 13th.

            This year Alonso and Stoffel are in 8th and 10th and STR are in 16th and 17th…

            So it seems that so far STR are doing worse than McLaren did last year and McLaren have taken STRs place on the grid. Obviously this is only FP1 and FP2 so things could be drastically different in qualifying but it currently looks like Honda have not significantly improved in speed although they certainly look a lot more reliable.

          3. @robbie with 3 PU per uear, even two for some components, I fear we’ll never see true pace in FPs this year. They are all 2 seconds off the pace compared to last year’s pole (1:22.188). Qualifications will be the only true test and this weekend it will rain so it will have to wait for next gp I guess.

  4. Hi there,
    My name is Jonathan and I’m trying to purchase a live Sky/BBC F1 streaming package.
    Wanted to ask if there is a legal way to watch sky f1 outside the UK for non-UK residents?
    Thanks in advance 🙏

    1. Did you try the new F1 streaming service?

      1. 2 Chaitanya
        The one that doesn’t work?

    2. Same problem here @mclewis, in Portugal the commentary sucks and you have to pay for five channels of mostly football in order to watch the race weekends in HD. The new f1 tv service won’t be available too. Thank god there are some pirates who also enjoy the sky f1 stream.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd March 2018, 12:26

        The rest of the world is very unlucky – it turns out that the United States had the best commentary by a mile until this year. It really added to the races and probably made even the worst races as fun as the best races in other countries. We’ve been spoilt but now we are in the same boat and it’s name is the titanic…

    Every cockpit camera is a disaster.

    1. If you think the view from the T cam is bad, the shoulder cam view is worse (McLaren onboards were using a shoulder cam).

      1. In the T cam, the halo looks like the railing of a cruiseship. Shoulder cam is „literary“ unusable. You see nothing. Unbelievable.
        The Ferrari looks like that double decker bus, that everybody says the halo can hold.

        1. LOL! Good one!

    2. Totally 100% agree. It felt like looking trough bicycle rim or broken satellite dish!

    3. Agree. Its absolutely horrid. Its hard to recognize the car from a t-cam onboard shot, let alone the driver. Its a complete joke.

      I love looking at t-cam onboard shots from all eras of F1. This is one thing i will miss a lot going forward. Because surely they have to at least change the camera position. It feels like Liberty did zero research or testing before this weekend.

    4. Later this season it will probably be mounted on the Halo then?

      1. Exactly.. put the camera in the halo and give the view an adrenaline rush.

      2. @azmo I read that mounting points for cams can only be changed next year if they can all agree and be notified before end of june. Side cameras can still be used for rear filming though.

    5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd March 2018, 12:19

      It’s unwatchable – the only shots that weren’t affected were shots from a distance especially from the rear.

  6. After all the predictions. Hartley is fastest of the Rookies 😆

    1. I’m more invested in this season than any previous solely due to having a fellow kiwi on the grid (and a thoroughly nice one at that).

      Riccardo winning and Hartley getting points in a race this season would be phenomenal.

      1. Especially here in Melbourne.

      2. It’s a funny thing us Aussie’s and Kiwis. If the All blacks were playing the Wallabies, you would want to kill us and we would want to kill you. No quarter given and we might even like the South Africans or even the English beating the opposition from time to time.

        But when it comes to Aussies and Kiwis Vs the world, we do stick together. Anyone who has ever travelled the world as a backpacker knows that we end up sticking together. As an Aussie, I will say. “Go Hartley. Go hard son”. You got there the hard way, but you are there now so go and make NZ (and Aus) proud.

        1. Mick- it’s the ANZAC spirit- and you are spot on.

          I was lucky enough to have the Thursday in the paddock with FI and walked out the paddock with Hartley (by accident) I don’t think expected the loud cheer and he didn’t know to respond – kind of refreshing to see an older guy so stocked to be in F1 when a few others see it as a right!!

          But if we play them at cricket- different story lol

        2. unlike cricket and footy, a bit of a shame your drivers have to emigrate to Europe to carve out a decent career though

  7. Initial thoughts are:
    – Top 3 teams are business as usual. Saturday’s Q2/Q3 will give a better indication of where they are and who is #2.
    – Sauber have some big aero rebuilding to do – a current PU just isn’t enough to propel them forward.
    – The midfield looks to be a very interesting and close arena. It’ll be interesting to see how the richer teams (McLaren & Renault) develop over the season.
    – Can Haas keep up their promising showing? And conversely, can Force India bounce back into the role of lean, mean, midfield killing machine?

    1. It looks like Haas in the hands of Grosjean is the strongest contender for midfield killing machine.

      1. Two years ago i wrote a comment on the line that in a good car, grosjean was far stronger than in meh cars. Hopefully it was right. He has a great happy smile (second to ric)

        1. @tango Very much in the Jenson Button mould.

          1. @tango But that can be said of all drivers in all series, no? You don’t win the WDC without a WCC car. All drivers are coloured by their cars, since the car is at least 80% of the game.

          2. @robbie

            I think the point was that the effect is non linear.

          3. you don’t win the WDC without a WCC car

            RAI’s car got less points in 2007 than the McLaren, and yet if HAM or ALO won theyd’ve done it with a non-WCC car. Not a very good example, I’ll admit.

        2. Yes but some need a great car to express themselves comparative to their comrades

          1. @robbie I don’t think that’s what was meant.

            What is meant is that when the car isn’t very good or better that the driver himself performs worse. Some drivers are known for performing amazing feats in bad cars. Others melt.

            I think the Button comparison was a little harsh on JB. He had two really terrible cars and neither he nor Barrichello got a lot from them. His head dropped a little but to be expected. Prior to those years he’d done some impressive stuff in undeserving motors.

          2. @tango Fair enough. @gongtong True but most of the time even the drivers who perform amazing feats in bad cars only do that occasionally, and usually a bad car sees them handcuffed other than on particular days when they lucked into a combination of setup and tires on that track in those conditions on that day, to pull one out of a hat. On average, like FA at McHonda for example, he’d be handcuffed most of the time.

          3. @robbie I actually agree with you for the most part. It’s an idea that’s banded about regularly that I’m not entirely convinced of.

            I’m more inclined to think there are simply good drivers and great drivers. Of those, there are some that keep their head up and put in good performances when the machine isn’t performing and some who melt. I think their egos certainly come into it!

            I really don’t know though. Setup gets discussed often for the same reason, that driver X just doesn’t perform to his best unless the car is setup perfectly. But doesn’t that just raise questions over their ability to set the car up? I don’t know. But I see the point.

  8. Both Mercedes cars should go faster: laps from Hamilton and Bottas were not 100 per cent clean.
    Best Red Bull is 1.15s faster than the best McLaren on same power unit. RBR was not kidding when they said they were ready for the season. Having said that, Ricciardo and his garage has a lot of work to.
    Kimi not blown away by Vettel and if he turns out to be quicker tomorrow, Ferrari should at least give him a fair chance on Sunday. On race pace, Ferrari not too shabby, compared to RBR.
    Haas confirms Barcelona pace on a different circuit, which is impressive. Unless there are mistakes and errors, the car can give tough competition to McLaren for the best of the rest fight, at least in the early part of the season.
    At the bottom end, fantastic job by Honda and Hartley. But disappointed with Renault and Force India.

    1. Power units made by Renault but there is huge difference in engine mapping , RB by Tag Heuer ILMOR and McLaren mapping by McLaren .

  9. Mclaren 1.2 seconds behind Red Bull and 0.7 ahead of Toro Rosso (comparing best times of all 3)

    If I consider that Alonso is at least 4 tenths faster than Hartley (not an unfair assumption, no offence to Hartley), that makes the Mclaren only 3 tenths faster than Toro Rosso Honda. If Mclaren’s chassis is supposedly very great and much better than the back-marker Torro Rosso’s chassis, the difference between them can be assumed to be 6 tenths. So does that mean Honda is FASTER than Renault by 3 tenths. We know that’s not true. If it was, Red Bull would have that engine in the back of there car. So that means one of the 2 assumptions is wrong:

    1) Alonso is 4 tenths faster than Hartley
    2) Mclaren’s chassis is 6 tenths faster than Toro Rosso

    My hypothesis is that Mclaren’s chassis is not that awesome. It is a mid-field chassis, always has been since 2013. It just got 3 years to hide thanks to Honda. Now they cannot hide anymore.

    1. History is usually better at analysing differences than foresight.

    2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      23rd March 2018, 9:41

      I believe your Alonso assumption is wrong as well – Alonso was a superb driver but believe he no longer is just another of the 10 F1 drivers that are not Elite nor pay drivers.
      Either age, boredom and/or losing heart caused him to go down on the greatness ladder.

      1. The cause is the car. He’s still super sharp.

    3. Your narrow concentration on 2 options is wrong. There are many other possibilities. Among them is this: Honda has finally made the jump in competitiveness in the off season, and made Mclaren look stupid again. Again it’s just a possibility. We can’t know that. But the speedtrap shows Honda is finally competitive.

      1. This race is too soon to tell, Bahrain should give a truer picture as it has fast flowing aero section and long straights. Australia seems more of a stop-start track.

    4. Different engine mapping , RB by Tag Ilmor , McL by McLAren and Renault by Renault .

    5. I will accept that I jumped to a conclusion too early. The gap between RB-Mclaren-TR is 1 second each based on Q1.

      Mclaren chassis still quite behind RB with same engine, so, they are definitely front of midfield, not midfield chassis

  10. It was practise, don’t read to much into it. McLaren are behind other teams in car setup because of lost time in testing. The McLaren will be quick, just maybe not this race.they have heaps of upgrades coming,Alonso said he expects this to be their worst race of the season, and I can still see him finishing 7th while Toro Rosso fights for 14th.

  11. Is there a RaceFans Fantasy League (fantasygp.com) ?

    1. The predictions championship.
      Not exactly fantasy league, but pretty good nonetheless

    2. @jcost – that is a GREAT question – and once worthy of a thread itself!

      If there is then I’ll definitely join it!

  12. Does anyone know a site that lists tires used in its results table? Coz this is just useless.

      1. Sorry, my bad. It is best time set by a team.

  13. Hi,

    Not sure of how much to read into the standings of the second practice. But being the impatient bot that I am… How worried should we be for Force India?

    1. Not at all, everything is rosy.

      1. Well pointed!

  14. Unimpressive from Daniel so far. To be fair, he was a fast lap when the red flag came down. But has ended up with a 3 place grid penalty now.
    If this trend of Max going faster than Daniel continues, Daniel wont have an option to move to another team (just speculating)

    1. Yep, Max going faster. Except in the first sector which was the only one Ricci Bobby got timed before the red flag came out. There’s a trend too good to ignore.

      1. @juan-fanger
        The trend has been there since last year my friend.
        My comment was not in reference to what happened in FP2 alone. I do not look too much into FP times.
        I generally ignore the “trend” during the practice sessions. Do not care if it is a trend or a bad one.

      2. Different setup results in different sector times..it’s the complete sector times that add up.

      3. @ Juan,
        Ricciardo was a bot over 0.1 sec slower in the first sector that run, and at the time the sessions got stop still slower than both Verstappen and Hamilton.

        1. Thanks Matn. Although that is different to what the broadcast said, at least you were factual.

          As opposed to those who keep saying Max has it all over Daniel but keep ignoring the points. Maybe this year Max will finally do it. After all, Nico did eventually beat Lewis.

  15. Anyone else feel like they are getting less information from the new on screen graphics?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd March 2018, 12:11

      @asanator Actually, I felt the same way. I couldn’t actually clearly see the time differences between drivers and there are brand logos next to the drivers’ names which are impossible to see. I found myself squinting to see things.

      At first, I thought Sky had picked that information but that’s probably coming from the global feed as NBC used to blame the global feed when the information wasn’t available.

      Something’s off in F1 – between the logo, the music, the on screen graphics, the halo, the cameras with the halos, the pit computers, they are making a lot of bad or short-sighted decisions…

    2. Yes. Why they haven’t added a little tyre logo next to everyone’s fastest time is absolutely beyond me. Very frustrating at this point. Hopefully it improves.

      They also need to keep the split times from 1-20 up the whole time. It’s absolutely vital information.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd March 2018, 15:52

        Good point about the tyre. Actually, I think there was some kind of color next to the driver’s name and I was struggling to understand its purpose but now that I think about it, could that have been a tyre indicator?

        1. @freelittlebirds I seem to recall them being team colour. I guess I hope to be wrong though.

  16. Looks like it’s pretty close to what testing revealed. Merc, followed by red bull and then Ferrari. Haas has the promising pace in midfield along with Renault and Mclaren in the same boat.
    Williams is in trouble and should be battling Toro Rosso. Sauber dead last

  17. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    23rd March 2018, 11:58

    Anyone else watch Practice 1 from the States? I watched it on the ESPN app (ESPN3).

    I don’t know why but I found the commentators dry like toast – there’s zero chemistry between them and they keep talking as if they are paid by the word, not the quality of the commentary.

    The capper is the addition of Paul Di Resta whose accent is really, really impossible to follow. I went to a British school so it’s not like I’m not used to people speaking English with thick accents but this took me by surprise. I have to literally process every sentence to understand it.

    As for watching practice, the Halo has really destroyed the experience. I couldn’t see any of the drivers and when they are in the pits, the cameras fully cover them as they need to straddle the Halo. The on-board camera likes a dune buggy race category (it’s hilarious), definitely not F1 and the Mercedes side camera showcased the Halo magnified by 1000 – scary.

    So in 1 year Liberty has managed to really turn F1 upside down for all viewers in the US. Maybe it’s not their fault but they are in charge and they have to accept the blame. Are they seriously thinking that they’ll get extra viewers?

    By the way for anyone who wants to watch the practices, you’ll need the ESPN app (aka ESPN3). I tried casting from the ESPN app on my iPad but it only found my Chromecast on my bedroom so if you have a Chromecast. I downloaded the ESPN app on the Xbox One so I could watch on the living room TV – it’s not easy to use or find the content but it’s the only way to watch the practices. I didn’t try it with an Android tablet or phone but I will to see if I can get it to cast to my main TV, Xbox, or PS4 (as long as it works with one).

    As for the logo RI and the music, no comment.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd March 2018, 12:14

      Sorry, I meant the monitors fully cover the view of the drivers in the pits as they have new monitors that have to straddle the halo. It blocks the view to the driver completely. It’s almost as if the cameras are unwelcome in the pits.

      1. @freelittlebirds I don’t know who the commentators are, but your second paragraph describing them is exactly how I have always considered coverage in the US with Hobbs and Matchett et al. Do they sound like there’s something else they’d rather be doing? That’s what I’ve always found.

        Just for me personally, I haven’t had much issue with the halo, and I find if anything it has been less visible or obstructive once the cars are in motion…barely noticeable on overhead shots even. I’m not sweating a need to see the driver at all times.

        The onboard shots? Yeah they could be better, and I think they could and likely will tweak that.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          23rd March 2018, 14:48

          @robbie I had the impression that the director was avoiding close-up shots – there were so many shots from far and behind almost as if they were trying to avoid accentuating the halo.

          Did you not like Hobbs and Matchett? I think they were as good as Nick Harris (MotoGP) and Ray Hudson (La Liga).

          1. @freelittlebirds Not sure if they’re intentionally doing anything different with the camera views we get.

            As to Hobbs and Matchett, (not at all familiar with the other two you mention) oh they’re likeable enough, and knowledgable somewhat enough, but from what I ever saw of them they were simply commenting on the same coverage we were watching on TV, and sounding blasé about it. Back when I would follow the live timing on my laptop while the race was going on, I’d notice things going on behind the scenes that they weren’t even aware of, until the camera fell on the situation. I’d know ahead of them who just did a fastest lap, or who just pitted, or who just passed who. You’d have thought they could have at least had a laptop with them, like me, following the action that way for any little hint of what was going on, especially since they were just commentating from a studio in the US. The only times I did give the US coverage a shot was when I only had the American big 4 stations in HD (e.g. ABC would have the rights to the Monaco race over Speed TV), but not my sports carrying for F1 here in Canada, and that is when I would watch the US coverage and would notice how lax their coverage actually was. Ultimately though, trying to follow live with that coverage failed because they delay the race to fit in all their extra commercials, so the race would be over in real life, and yet there’d still be several laps to go on US TV’s.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 15:14

            @Robbie Interesting, I never actually followed the race live (NBC had an app to do it but I didn’t want to see things). For me, seeing it unfold on TV is more fun than seeing the lap times of every racer. Between the quality of the HDTV feed and the surround sound systems nowadays, I didn’t feel the need or probably don’t want to have a tablet or laptop to distract me.

            To be honest with you, I watch half the races well after they are finished. It’s not that I’m not a fan but I can’t turn my house into Indy in the middle of the night and it’s so much more exciting to have my wife and kids share the experience.

            I get your point about Hobbs and Matchett but that’s their job – they are supposed to comment on what we are seeing on the screen at the moment, not what’s happening live.

            Just curious what part of Canada are you from? I live in Pennsylvania.

          3. @freelittlebirds We’re not that far away from each other in the grand scheme of things. I’m about a half an hour north of Toronto.

          4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            24th March 2018, 2:55

            @Robbie definitely not far – I was checking the driving distance to Montreal and Quebec as we are planning a short trip there in the summer with my family. It’s only 7-8 hours away to Montreal and 3 hours to Quebec. How are the streets in Canada? They are probably better than the American highways:-)

          5. @freelittlebirds Good stuff. Our highways are great, except for construction season of course, which can be a pain sometimes. Yeah roads do get beat up from snow removal etc, so we do get our share of potholes, especially in the spring, and so crews are out full bore filling those. But overall I don’t think we can complain about the roads…just the traffic.

          6. Btw you’ll love Montreal, and if you mean Quebec City when you say Quebec, it’s beautiful there.

    2. The commentators not shutting up seems to be universal. The act like they’re on the radio, where you can’t have a few seconds of silence. They won’t shut up even when there’s a team radio message being broadcast.

    3. I’ve always liked American sports commentators when working in pairs, but not listened to them in F1 for years. Generally they seem to have one of them acting like he doesnt know much for the information to bounce off to the viewer giving a laid back viewing. British commentateurs go the other way and tend to try and out do each other with information and knowledge which sometimes becomes iritating.
      Anyone who speaks a bit of French should try and get the French coverage, the race commentary is often up-beat. Plenty of Oh là là là là !

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd March 2018, 14:52

        @bigjoe actually Steve Matchett who was the technical expert (some may disagree) for F1 in the US and he was incredibly good at explaining the F1 technologies, he was almost like a professor but kept it short and simple. He was extremely articulate at summarizing technologies. Hobbs and Diffey would jump in with a joke or a comment or an example – it’s an art to do that.

        The commentators also did a phenomenal job of covering every topic mentioned on this site during practices – they visit this site frequently, no doubt about that whatsoever and I’m pretty sure Will Buxton corrected me when I mentioned his name as Bill Buxton in a comment :-).

      2. @bigjoe
        33% of the French broadcast is just JV being sarcastic … “Oh là là là là” is closer to saying “doubleyou-tee-eff is he doing there” in English than being upbeat. ;-)

    4. @freelittlebirds Paul di Resta is Scottish, with stronger regional pronunciation than say David Coulthard.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        23rd March 2018, 14:56

        I know – I actually love a Scottish accent but this is just impossible to follow and, in general, British accents are the best when it comes to commentating (Nick Harris/Ray Hudson/David Hobbs/Steve Matchett) or acting (half the serious actors are British) but this is crazy. Any European will not understand 90% of what Paul is saying. I’m probably at 60% because I’m lagging to translate what he’s saying and he’s saying it too fast. Most Americans will be even lower.

        1. @freelittlebirds
          I am any European, and I have absolutely no problem with di Resta’s accent.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 15:22

            @nase you are very lucky – you might want to check your ancestry, don’t be surprised if you’re 99% Scottish.

            The commentators we had in the States were British (Matchett/Hobbs/Buxton) or Australian (Diffey) – like I said British commentators and actors are some of the best and there’s no problem with those guys.

          2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 15:25

            Compare the difference between the interviewer and Paul Di Resta – there are moments when you can’t discern Paul’s words especially when he speaks casually and puts 5-10 words together in 1 second.

            Di Resta Interview

          3. Same here. I’m Flemish and usually watch English and American series with subtitles. No problem understanding Di Resta.

          4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 16:20

            @krommenaas Okay, I’m pretty sure you guys are pulling our legs:-)

          5. @freelittlebirds
            I know my ancestry rather well (partly for pretty sinister reasons that played a role some 85 years ago), thank you. And I have to disappoint you, for I have nothing to offer in that respect, just ancestors from rural Germany and mostly rural France for the last 200 years (as well as vehemently denied rumours of a genetic contribution from the Iberian Peninsula some 100 years ago).
            Also, nothing in my education particularly exposed me to Scottish accents. I did take a course led by a lecturer from Scotland once, many years ago (she was adorable), but that was just one accent among a ton of others: Canadians, very posh RP speakers, Northern Ireland, Americans from both coasts, IBE (international Broken English), and maybe more. And I have a colleague from the Manchester region, whose speech basically becomes gibberish when it comes to non-professional subjects such as football, but it’s a bit of a running gag.
            The thing is: I just don’t notice anything particularly unintelligible in his speech. He makes a few unusual vowel ‘soynds’, and his treatment of rhotics in coda positions makes words like ‘work’ sound like ‘whrk’, he tends to drop a few stops at the end of words and pronounce longer words with a somewhat arhythmical intonation, but none of that ever made it difficult for me to understand him.

            Compare the difference between the interviewer and Paul Di Resta – there are moments when you can’t discern Paul’s words especially when he speaks casually and puts 5-10 words together in 1 second.

            I think what you wanted to say is ‘I can’t discern Paul’s words’. Yeah, he does speak with a slur, but as long as I don’t have to make a word-for-word transcript of what he says, I have absolutely no trouble understanding him. For me, it’s the interviewer who mostly speaks very clearly, but occasionally mumbles the end of a question to the point of becoming pure guesswork on my side.

          6. @freelittlebirds I assure you I am not. To us, non English speakers, his Scottish accent probably sounds less off than to you who speaks English with a different accent (I presume). I listened to the youtube interview linked below before I posted before to check; understood all of it no prob.

          7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 19:47

            I find it impossible to believe that a non-native speaker other than people born in the UK would be able to completely understand everything Paul Di Resta is saying and the likelihood of that happening with the sound of F1 engines is pretty ludicrous to even suggest, much less entertain.

            I have first hand experience with a Scottish teacher and it took me years to understand him mostly because half (if not more) of his words sounded like totally different words and I needed time for my brain to be attuned to pick the correct word.

            Bottomline, he’s a very poor choice for a commentator as was the other person. Sky sports should be looking for real talent and for entertainment because, after all, F1 is about entertainment. There was almost no humor during the practice or maybe I simply missed it.

            No one will ever say that John McEnroe isn’t entertaining and no one will question our ability to understand him, although he probably would be the first to make fun of us for listening to what he says. Nick Harris (MotoGP commentator) had a strong accent and spoke almost as if the race was an auction or a horse race but I had no problem understanding him.

            Of course, this is just practice and I’ll have to wait for the race BUT it was the 1st practice after the winter break and I was shocked how dull and boring the commentary was, when I could understand it or when I had to spend less time paying attention to it.

            The interesting part with the NBC commentators was that I would rewind to listen to their jokes again (even my kids would laugh) or listen to something important that I didn’t catch while being distracted. With the Sky folks, I have to rewind simply to hear what they are saying and they are talking so much while saying so little. It’s an interesting difference – it’s like rewinding to watch Ronaldo or Messi score a vintage goal versus rewinding to see what’s happening on the screen because the quality of the program is really bad.

            It’s possible I’m very spoilt – I only follow a few sports and usually they have really good commentators like Nick Harris, Ray Hudson, David Hobbs. I would not put it beneath me that I pick sports based on the commentators since they play such a large part.

          8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            23rd March 2018, 19:58

            @krommenaas I’m not saying that all scottish accents are bad or incomprehensible. Here is a list of actors who are Scottish and their accents didn’t affect their acting careers and they are chosen for their ability to act, a large part of which is to deliver lines in a professional and clear manner:

            Ewan McGregor, James McAvoy, Sean Connery, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Iain Glen and many others.

            But to say that a Scottish accent, and particularly Di Resta’s is not difficult to understand, is like saying that the Halo is the most beautiful part of a F1 car and they should add a few more to the vehicle :-)

          9. @freelittlebirds
            But we do understand him, for crying out loud!
            If reality doesn’t match your expectations, maybe the classy thing would be to reconsider your opinion, instead of alleging that everyone else is wrong.
            Blimey, you’re annoying.

      2. @ju88sy
        Ya think so? I have zero problems following di Resta’s commentary (and English is a foreign language for me), but Coulthard’s has always been a bit of a tough nut to crack.

        1. I was born in Northern Ontario, Canada and my Mom’s parents immigrated there from England before she was born, so I grew up with many things English, from the meat and potatoes diet, tea drinking, the Royal watching, British comedy and music and TV shows, etc etc…I love English, Irish, and Scottish accents and do quite well understanding even the thicker ones, no doubt because I was hearing them starting as a child.

  18. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/practice-2.htm

    Very interesting to compare last year’s times in fp2 to this year’s, has the 3 engine limit dropped times? McLaren made a step forward, Mercedes backwarss.

    1. Slightly skewed given that there’s an extra DRS zone.

      1. @ecwdanselby
        Slightly in the sense that the third DRS zone probably doesn’t help improve times by more than 2 tenths. But, in this case, it’s in fact the opposite of skewed, because there are three factors that should lead to improved lap times for all teams, including Mercedes (softer tyres, improved aero in the second season of the current regulations, additional DRS zone) – yet Mercedes’ lap times have stagnated. The question is: why?

  19. These gaps don’t appear to be terribly large overall. We’ve seen 2 to 3 seconds or more covering the front to midfield in Melbourne before and this is less. It will be much less at other tracks.

    I just wish the Mercs weren’t so darn reliable.

    1. Yes, I’m rather optimistic

  20. Poor Sauber, another year in the doldrums

    1. Does the Sauber have the same engine as the Haas?

      1. @f1supremo
        Yes. Same spec, same software. Everything else has been outlawed.

        1. So the deficit we see between Sauber and Haas is simply due to aero??? I guess Mclaren did an awesome job integrating the Renault to their chassis in few months…..their aero package puts them fraction of a sec within Renault.

          1. @f1supremo
            Aero and mechanical grip, which is a major factor in Melbourne as well. But yeah, the Sauber lacks downforce, and that translates to poor lap times, even though things looked quite a bit brighter for them in qualifying.
            As for Haas, don’t forget that they have some sort of priviledged partnership with Ferrari that allows them to use hundreds of parts that were designed by Ferrari for Ferrari, so they don’t have to worry about designing a car from scratch. They get to develop a car from an undoubtedly strong base that has been designed with another team’s resources. Sauber get none of that.

  21. RogerRichards
    23rd March 2018, 15:41

    This new font there using is pretty bad imo as it is very difficult to read, it has made segments of the tv graphics worthless as i just cannot read them clearly.

    the tv graphics should be clear, informative and easy to read & i feel these fail primarily due to the font, size of some aspects of the graphics & we seem to have lost a lot of information we previous had (no speed traps, telemetry, tyre data, don’t see full timings as often).

    the biggest problem however is the font, they really do need to revert back to the old one which was clear & easy to read.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      23rd March 2018, 15:58

      Interesting, it could have been the font.

  22. I read that Sebastian says that there is still work to do. I presume he’s talking about his hairdresser?

    1. Badum toss…..

  23. Hello everybody, so pleased we are at the new season (with a Scottish accent). I wish everybody the best of luck, and please try to remain positive at all times. Thank you all. Goodbye.

    1. Hey @Baron What’s up?

      1. It’s all good @robbie but thanks for asking…👍😉

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