Triple F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton hit the ground running with what he described as a 99% perfect first day of track action at the Australian Grand Prix weekend, impressing his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff as well as rival team chief Christian Horner.
Hamilton was quickest during both FP1 and FP2 sessions in Melbourne, with half a second advantage over the rest of the field including his new teammate Valtteri Bottas and, apart from the outright speed, also showing ominous race pace.
At the end of the day, Wolff told Sky F1, “Hamilton is in a league of his own at the moment. His one-lap pace was really good and he took the ultrasofts for 17 laps and was stable. I’m happy.”
Red Bull team principal Horner was not surprised, “From the performance we’ve seen from Lewis, he’s the absolute favourite. He was the favourite coming here and all today has done is underline that.
“But then it’s motor racing, and anything can happen. We have seen spurious results in opening Grands Prix in previous years,” added Horner whose drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were a full second adrift of Hamilton’s best on the opening day.
Hamilton himself was clearly content when summing up his day, “It was a night and day difference to how the car felt in the last few days of testing so that was a big relief for all of us.”
“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,”
“Coming into today, we really didn’t know where we’d be. We knew from FP1 that the Ferraris weren’t at their maximum. Of course, in P2 all of a sudden they were quick. We’ll see [in qualifying] how it really stands,” predicted Hamilton.