The first free practice sessions of the year with the softer 2018 compounds was held with Mercedes fastest in both sessions but closely challenged by Red Bull in the afternoon.
Despite a brief red flag stoppage, the teams carried out plenty of running on all three compounds as they assessed the 2018 range of tyres in warm conditions for the first time. As usual on the semi-permanent Albert Park track, which is rarely used outside of the grand prix, there was a very slippery surface today that should improve as more rubber is laid down
MARIO ISOLA - HEAD OF CAR RACING
“It’s early days, especially as this is the first warm running these tyres have had in conditions that we can directly compare to last year. On the longer runs, the pace of the frontrunners seems closely matched so far. The complexion tomorrow might be altered completely by the forecast of rain, with uncertain weather perhaps persisting on Sunday as well. After the first day of running of a new season, there’s obviously a lot of data to sift through, and it's certain that the full picture is yet to emerge. With the performance gap between soft and supersoft quite low from what we can see so far, and a bigger gap of 0.6 seconds to the ultrasoft, all three compounds appear to be viable options for the race strategy.”