Australian Grand Prix 2019: Will Ferrari Fail to Prance, Again?
16 March, 2019, 02:55 | Author: Marlene Myers
Alfa Romeo newcomer Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest, a tenth behind Vettel, and just ahead of the two Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.
Vettel later bolted on softs and put in a lap of 1m23.473s to go fifth fastest, subsequently describing the auto as "still a bit wobbly" over the radio.
"It was a bit of a surprise", admitted the German, "I think they looked really quick, and I don't know if it was just us struggling a bit today or others as well, but as a matter of fact they were in a league of their own".
"The auto feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track".
Hamilton, whose first win of last season came in Azerbaijan in round four, said he did not feel as if he needed to grab the new campaign by the scruff of the neck.
"We got through our program really well, no issues on track".
Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were seventh and eighth, closely matched after the Australian had a tricky day with a number of delays, first due to a technical problem and then the need to adjust his seat to reduce discomfort in the vehicle.
"We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we're getting there".
"We didn't bring a lot of new parts to the auto, but we were able to optimise the package that we have".
Setting aside Mercedes' early pace, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto insisted his team's pre-season performances counted for little now. The forecast is for warmer conditions for Saturday's qualifying and Sunday's race.
The Formula 1 season has begun again, with faster cars, new rules, and new line-ups. "Box", he said on the team radio.
"It was a tricky day for us - it was probably a tricky day for everyone". I think we simply focused on ourselves, we had eight intense days, very little time to prepare for Melbourne.
British-born Thai debutant Alexander Albon also had a tough start, spinning his Toro Rosso at turn two and having a low-impact crash to lose his front wing and cause a brief halt in the session.
In between, FIA President Jean Todt and Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey attended a news conference with started with a minute of silence in memory of race director Charlie Whiting, who died in Melbourne on Thursday from a pulmonary embolism.
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