The opening round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit as teams prepared for the Australian Grand Prix Sunday.
Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track were run under clear and sunny conditions, with Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen navigating the track’s slippery layout, as it is comprised of public roads with a surface that only sees racecars about once a year, making grip hard to come by, especially in the initial practice sessions.
Both Grosjean and Magnussen began FP1 on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tire before transitioning to the Red soft tire. Magnussen’s quick time of 1:24.934 came on his 15th lap shod on softs. He ran 24 laps and was the ninth-fastest driver. Grosjean’s best time was a 1:25.224 on his 13th lap, also set on softs. He ran 18 laps and posted the 12th-quickest time.
Leading the way in the first FP1 of 2019 was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, whose fast lap of 1:23.599 was .038 of a second better than the next quickest driver, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean wrapped FP2 as the 10th-quickest driver with a time of 1:23.814, which was 1.41 seconds better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the 11th of his 37 laps on a set of soft tires. Magnussen shaved .946 of a second off his FP1 time with a lap of 1:23.988 to secure the 12th-fastest mark. His fast lap came on his ninth tour, also while utilizing the soft tire. He completed 27 laps.
Hamilton remained atop FP2 with a time of 1:22.600, which was .048 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, teammate Valtteri Bottas. The Melbourne track record of 1:21.164, set last year by Hamilton in the final round of knockout qualifying, remained intact.
Between the two sessions, Rich Energy Haas F1 Team ran a total of 106 laps – 55 by Grosjean and 51 by Magnussen.
“It’s good to be back out there. This is a track I’ve always enjoyed driving, matched by the great atmosphere in the paddock. It looks like it’s quite tight in the midfield, which is super exciting. Everything we learned in testing has been working quite well here. We’ll find out a bit more tomorrow, but I think for the first day, we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.”
“It wasn’t too bad today. It was nice to be back driving on a racing track on a race weekend. I’m excited about that. It felt good, but, as always, we’ve now got lots of things to look at. We’ll be working hard tonight, but there’s no big issues, we’re pretty happy with the performance in the car. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“It was a solid day today. We did a lot of testing, and we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We still need to find a little bit more speed though. Hopefully tonight our guys can do a good job looking over all the information from today, so we can be ready for tomorrow.”