Lewis Hamilton claimed the first P1 of the 2016 season, however, very little came to light in Friday’s opening practice in Australia due to the changing weather conditions.
The Formula 1 season began on a wet Albert Park circuit after earlier rain dampened the track. This meant that the first laps of the new season were completed on the full wet or the intermediate tyres.
Mercedes led with the early 1-2 on the inters before Kimi Raikkonen hit the front with a 1:40.754. They were, however, the only three drivers to set times in the opening 30 minutes of running.
As the track dried out the drivers began to swap to the slicks with Daniel Ricciardo posting a 1:34.007 on his home circuit. He shaved tenths off that, down to a 1:32.394 before the rain again began to fall.
That necessitated a return to the intermediate tyres and the lap times slowed dramatically with Max Verstappen the fastest on the inters with a 1:40.075 which he set despite a slide through Turn 11.
With 20 minutes remaining in the session the drivers were back out on the slick tyres which resulted in Verstappen spinning on the soft tyres. The Toro Rosso driver lost it between Turns 6 and 7.
Nico Hulkenberg, now sporting a helmet that looks far too much like team-mate Sergio Perez’s, hit the front with a 1:31.681 before he was overhauled by Hamilton. The reigning World Champion posted a 1:30.364 on the soft tyres. Ricciardo improved to second, 0.511s.
A final dash in the last five minutes of FP1 saw Hamilton lower his benchmark to a 1:29.725 while Daniil Kvyat slotted into second place, 0.421s down. Ricciardo dropped to third ahead of Hulkenberg, Verstappen and Rosberg.
With the rain pouring down in the final minute of FP1 the session ended with Hamilton P1 and Ricciardo beached in the gravel. Sebastian Vettel, who left it late to set a lap time, returned to the pits without a time to his name.
As for F1’s newcomers, Haas were P18 and P20 with Esteban Gutierrez ahead of Romain Grosjean while Jolyon Palmer was P14 for Renault and Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto – who had an off through the gravel – were 16th and 19th.
1 Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.725
2 Kvyat Red Bull 1’30.146
3 Ricciardo Red Bull 1’30.875
4 Hülkenberg Force India 1’31.325
5 Verstappen Toro Rosso 1’31.720
6 Rosberg Mercedes 1’31.814
7 Alonso McLaren 1’33.060
8 Button McLaren 1’33.129
9 Perez Force India 1’33.370
10 Magnussen Renault 1’34.060
11 Bottas Williams 1’34.550
12 Massa Williams 1’34.679
13 Nasr Sauber 1’34.796
14 Palmer Renault 1’35.477
15 Ericsson Sauber 1’37.956
16 Wehrlein Manor 1’40.401
17 Räikkönen Ferrari 1’40.754
18 Gutiérrez Haas 1’41.780
19 Haryanto Manor 1’43.372
20 Grosjean Haas 1’43.443
21 Vettel Ferrari No time
22 Sainz Toro Rosso No time