Mercedes leads Friday practice sessions

By on Friday, March 24, 2017

Mercedes AMG Petronas


After two weeks of testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya, it was finally go time Friday at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne as teams prepared for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. 

The start of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with two, 90-minute practice sessions – FP1 and FP2 – which saw the new-for-2017 technical regulations in real-time action on the 5.303-kilometer, 16-turn track.

The advanced aerodynamic package for this year’s car was put in place to create a higher level of downforce and it was achieved with a wider front wing, larger barge boards, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters in height and width.

Augmenting the aerodynamic advances are wider tires from Pirelli, by 60 millimeters in the front and 80 millimeters in the rear. It’s a 25-percent increase that brings the front tires to 305 millimeters and the rear tires to 405 millimeters. The net effect was immediate, with lap times more than two seconds faster than those achieved in final practice for last year’s Australian GP.

Leading the way in FP1 was the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton’s quick time of 1:24.220 was .583 of a second better than Bottas. More pointedly, Hamilton’s fast lap in FP1 was only .691 of a second off the all-time lap record at Albert Park Circuit – a 1:23.529 set by Sebastian Vettel in qualifying in 2011.

First free practice results: 

1.  L. Hamilton                   Mercedes 01:24.220    
2.       V. Bottas Mercedes 01:24.803    
3.  D. Ricciardo Red Bull 01:24.886    
4.  M. Verstappen Red Bull 01:25.246    
5.  K. Raikkonen Ferrari 01:25.372    
6.  S. Vettel Ferrari 01:25.464    
7.  F. Massa Williams 01:26.142    
8.  R. Grosjean Haas 01:26.168    
9.  N. Hulkenberg Renault 01:26.183    
10.  S. Perez Force India 01:26.276    
11.  C. Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 01:26.450    
12.  D. Kvyat Toro Rosso 01:26.514    
13.  L. Stroll Williams 01:26.734    
14.  F. Alonso McLaren 01:27.116    
15.  M. Ericsson Sauber 01:27.348    
16.  E. Ocon Force India 01:27.656    
17.  K. Magnussen Haas 01:27.667    
18.  P. Wehrlein Sauber 01:28.539    
19.  J. Palmer Renault 01:28.585    
20.  S. Vandoorne          McLaren                       01:28.695  


Hamilton continued his quick pace by finishing atop FP2. He was the only driver to lap the track in under a minute and 24 seconds. His quick time of 1:23.620 was .547 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and only .091 of a second off Vettel’s 2011 lap record.

Second free practice results: 

1.        L. Hamilton                    Mercedes                 01:23.620    
2.  S. Vettel Ferrari 01:24.167    
3.  V. Bottas Mercedes 01:24.176    
4.  K. Raikkonen Ferrari 01:24.525    
5.  D. Ricciardo Red Bull 01:24.650    
6.  M. Verstappen         Red Bull                       01:25.013    
7.  C. Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 01:25.084    
8.  R. Grosjean Haas 01:25.436    
9.  N. Hulkenberg Renault 01:25.478    
10.  D. Kvyat Toro Rosso 01:25.493    
11.  S. Perez Force India 01:25.591    
12.  F. Alonso McLaren 01:26.000    
13.  E. Ocon Force India 01:26.145    
14.  F. Massa Williams 01:26.331    
15.  M. Ericsson Sauber 01:26.498    
16.  L. Stroll Williams 01:26.525    
17.  S. Vandoorne McLaren 01:26.608    
18.  P. Wehrlein Sauber 01:26.919    
19.  K. Magnussen Haas 01:27.279    
20.  J. Palmer Renault 01:27.549    

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