The opening round of the 2018 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 full sun amid comfortable temperatures.
Both drivers began FP1 on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire before transitioning to the Purple ultrasoft. Grosjean’s quick time of 1:25.730 came on his 15th lap shod on ultrasofts. He ran 24 laps and was the seventh-fastest driver. Magnussen’s best time was a 1:27.035 on his 10th lap, also set on ultrasofts. He ran 13 laps and posted the 17th-quickest time. Both drivers dealt with the typically slick track surface in Melbourne, as it only sees racecars about once a year. This makes grip hard to come by, especially early in a race weekend.
Leading the way in FP1 was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, whose fast lap of 1:24.026 was .551 of a second better than the next quickest driver, his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean wrapped FP2 as the sixth-quickest driver with a time of 1:24.648, which was 1.082 seconds better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the 13th of his 34 laps shod on a set of ultrasoft tires. Magnussen shaved 1.789 seconds off his FP1 time with a lap of 1:25.246 to jump to ninth fastest. His fast lap came on his 13th tour as well, also while utilizing the ultrasoft tire. He completed 30 laps.
Hamilton remained atop FP2 with a mark of 1:23.931, which was .127 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The Melbourne track record of 1:22.188, set last year by Hamilton in the final round of qualifying, remained intact.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 101 laps – 58 by Grosjean and 43 by Magnussen.
“It’s been a good day. I’m happy with the car and the guys did a great job getting everything ready. We had a successful winter test, and it’s good to confirm that the car is up there on a different track and with different temperatures. Obviously, it’s early stages and we need to keep up the work and keep building everything. There are areas where we can improve the car but, generally, I’m very happy with how today went.”
“I’m fairly positive, but we still have some work to do. I had quite a few abnormal issues today – nothing big – but little annoying issues with small things that were breaking. That stopped us from running as much as we’d hoped for, at least on my side. We got at least one run that was representative where I got to feel the car, and I was happy with the feeling. I’m looking forward to trying again tomorrow. Obviously, we don’t know what the weather’s going to do, but if it’s dry, I have a feeling we have a good package.”
“Not a bad day, but not a perfect one either. We had some small issues with Kevin in FP1 which carried into FP2. In the end, though, we came out not too bad. We have a good understanding of what we can do. We’ve got some more work to do tomorrow, but then I think everything changes a bit, because it’s supposed to be raining all day long.”
Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (14:00-15:00 local time) before qualifying starts at 17:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.