Formula 1 Australian GP: Hamilton fastest in first practice of 2017

Lewis Hamilton headed a Mercedes one-two in the opening practice session for the 2017 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix

Formula 1 Australian GP: Hamilton fastest in first practice of 2017

Hamilton led new team-mate Valtteri Bottas as the German marque offered an early reality check in Melbourne after Ferrari dominated pre-season testing.

The Mercedes drivers led as soon as the class of 2017 started posting representative lap times, with Bottas holding the early advantage with a 1m25.142s on super-softs.

The Finn was the first to switch to ultra-soft tyres, and he improved to a 1m24.803s despite a mistake in the final sector on his best lap.

Hamilton made no such error when his turn came, and the three-time champion ended up more than half a second clear as he vaulted to the top on a 1m24.220s.

No other teams ran the softest-compound Pirellis, with Red Bull leading the super-soft charge.

Daniel Ricciardo kicked off his home grand prix weekend with the third-fastest time, 0.6s slower than Hamilton, which made the only non-Mercedes driver to dip below the 1m25s barrier.

Max Verstappen reported an early gear synch problem in the other Red Bull but wound up fourth, just clear of the two Ferraris.

Having led the way in Barcelona testing Kimi Raikkonen was more than a second off the pace in FP1 on a 1m25.372s, less than a tenth quicker than team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

As the leading trio of teams ran two-by-two, the battle to be fourth proved as tight as anticipated.

Felipe Massa was seventh for Williams, but Haas driver Romain Grosjean and new Renault signing Nico Hulkenberg both lapped within half-a-tenth the Brazilian.

Force India's Sergio Perez, barely a tenth slower than Massa, completed the top 10 ahead of Carlos Sainz in the first of the Toro Rossos.

Further down the order, all eyes were on the two McLaren-Honda drivers to see if the MCL32 would run reliably after a disastrous pre-season.

Rookie Stoffel Vandoorne had a slow start in two ways, waiting almost an hour before setting a time and ending up bottom of the order.

His double champion team-mate Fernando Alonso fared better in 14th with a lap time 2.8s off the pace.

Alonso finished ahead of both Saubers, Esteban Ocon's Force India and Jolyon Palmer's Renault, which managed only six laps after a gearbox-related problem.

PRACTICE 1 TIMES

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m24.220s - 22
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m24.803s 0.583s 25
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m24.886s 0.666s 19
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m25.246s 1.026s 19
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m25.372s 1.152s 16
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m25.464s 1.244s 10
7 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m26.142s 1.922s 28
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m26.168s 1.948s 20
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m26.183s 1.963s 15
10 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m26.276s 2.056s 29
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1m26.450s 2.230s 24
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m26.514s 2.294s 25
13 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m26.734s 2.514s 29
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m27.116s 2.896s 18
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m27.348s 3.128s 30
16 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m27.656s 3.436s 23
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m27.667s 3.447s 20
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber/Ferrari 1m28.539s 4.319s 22
19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m28.585s 4.365s 6
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Honda 1m28.695s 4.475s 14


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