Mercedes began their 2017 campaign with back-to-back P1s in Friday’s practice in Melbourne, edging Ferrari and Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s great to be back in Australia and I’m super happy to be back in the car – particularly after a first day like that. It was 99 per cent perfect. After struggling with some issues in Barcelona, we didn’t know if we’d have the same thing here. What’s really encouraging is that we’ve arrived at the track just a week later and the car is exactly where it should be. It’s feeling great out there and the guys have done a fantastic job. We’ve shown good form so far on both the long and short runs and we got every lap done that we wanted to. The tyres performed really well today too. Coming into today, we really didn’t know where we’d be. We knew from FP1 that the Ferrari’s weren’t at their maximum. Of course, in FP2 all of a sudden they were quick. We’ll see tomorrow how it really stands. I feel very much at home in Melbourne. There’s always a great buzz here and a lot of support. I’m just really happy to see everyone and receive their positive energy. I’ll be pushing as hard as I can to win this race.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It was great to be back on track after Barcelona and overall it was a good day today. We still have work to do with the car balance but we got all of our running completed without any issues. From my side I definitely feel like I can make a step forward tomorrow. It’ll be a busy evening for us tonight looking through all the data to see where we can improve but it’s a reasonable start. In terms of our pace, it is only practice, so tomorrow we’ll find out exactly where we are. These tyre compounds are the right choice for this race. The softer compounds all felt good. Everyone is pushing to the limit, as we saw a few times out there today. This track is always quite dirty at the start of the weekend, but we’ll get used to it.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today is not really that important in the end. It is very important but not when you look at the final standings, one lap time only. I think overall it’s been OK. We had some small trouble this morning, which cost us some track time so it took a bit longer to get into the groove. Overall I think we can still improve. The car doesn’t yet feel as good as it should and as it can. I’m confident we can do something overnight.
“People from the outside always make up their own opinion, no matter what you tell them but that’s how it is. Obviously we’ve been very happy at testing, times look good, but it doesn’t mean anything when you come here and that’s when it matters, I think we were realistic about that.
“As I said today was OK, I think the car feels good. It hasn’t changed much, I mean it’s only two weeks ago we got out of the car but it’s good to be back here and as I said we can still improve.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “I didn’t really expect anything from today. For sure, we could have had more straightforward running and we had small problems here and there. I think overall we have to be happy and look forward to tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I think we can still get more out of it. FP1 was promising, we tried a few things in FP2 but didn’t work as we’d like. Mercedes for sure is quick, but it’s more Lewis at the moment than Valtteri [Bottas, in third]. Valtteri looks like he’s in our group. I think we can be there [in the fight]. Pole position would be a stretch, but we can be in that next group. We’ll be alright.”
Max Verstappen: “I had a bit of understeer, went off track and damaged the floor. We’re just trying to find a better balance. I think we are a bit too slow. We’re trying to improve. I think we’re where I expected us to be. We’re trying to make the best of it at the moment.”