Lewis Hamilton started his title defence with back-to-back P1s in practice as he topped the timesheets in Melbourne on Friday.
More rain at the start of Friday’s second session meant the Formula 1 drivers did not get in the running they had wanted while Jolyon Palmer admitted that Renault were keeping it “low risk” by staying in the garage rather than risking a crash.
One driver that should have perhaps listened to that advice was Nico Rosberg.
30 minutes into the session the German became the first driver to crash in the 2016 season. The Mercedes driver lost control of his car out of Turn 8 and smacked the wall nose first.
Rosberg tried to make it back to the pits with his front wing crumbled under his car but was told by Mercedes to “stop, stop, stop” and he parked it on the grass. Session over for the Mercedes driver.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 18, 2016
His stoppage brought out the Virtual Safety Car.
As the action resumed Fernando Alonso went quickest for McLaren with a 1:39.895, holding down P1 by 1.3s ahead of Sergio Perez at the halfway point of the session.
Carlos Sainz deposed Alonso at the top of the timesheets but it was short-lived as Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line with a 1:39.486 while Daniel Ricciardo climbed to second, 0.049s down.
Lewis Hamilton ventured out for his first flying lap with, 25 minutes remaining in the session and immediately went quickest. Purple in the second and third sectors, he posted a 1:38.841 on the inters.
Nico Hulkenberg followed him up the timesheets into second place, 0.467s down. However, any chance of improving lap times after that came to naught when, with 15 minutes remaining, the rain again came down.
Hamilton finished quickest, back-to-back P1s to start the season, with Hulkenberg second ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Sainz and Alonso.
Several drivers opted not to set times; Kevin Magnussen, Palmer, Marcus Ericsson and Felie Nasr, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas and also Max Verstappen.
1 Hamilton Mercedes 1’38.841
2 Hülkenberg Force India 1’39.308
3 Räikkönen Ferrari 1’39.486
4 Ricciardo Red Bull 1’39.535
5 Sainz Toro Rosso 1’39.694
6 Alonso McLaren 1’39.895
7 Button McLaren 1’40.008
8 Vettel Ferrari 1’40.761
9 Perez Force India 1’41.256
10 Kvyat Red Bull 1’42.411
11 Gutiérrez Haas 1’42.891
12 Wehrlein Manor 1’43.401
13 Grosjean Haas 1’43.731
14 Haryanto Manor 1’44.304
15 Rosberg Mercedes 1’47.356
16 Magnussen Renault No time
17 Palmer Renault No time
18 Massa Williams No time
19 Bottas Williams No time
20 Ericsson Sauber No time
21 Nasr Sauber No time
22 Verstappen Toro Rosso No time