Featured 2018 Formula One Australian Grand Prix (Discussion Thread)

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Paul Jeffrey, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Lewis Hamilton

  2. Valtteri Bottas

  3. Sebastian Vettel

  4. Kimi Raikkonen

  5. Daniel Ricciardo

  6. Max Verstappen

  7. Fernando Alonso

  8. Stoffel Vandoorne

    0 vote(s)
  9. Nico Hulkenberg

    0 vote(s)
  10. Carlos Sainz

    0 vote(s)
  11. Lance Stroll

    0 vote(s)
  12. Sergey Sirotkin

  13. Sergio Perez

  14. Esteban Ocon

  15. Brendon Hartley

    0 vote(s)
  16. Pierre Gasly

    0 vote(s)
  17. Romain Grosjean

  18. Kevin Magnussen

  19. Charles Leclerc

  20. Marcus Ericsson

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    2018 Australian Grand Prix Discussion Thread.jpg
    Formula One is back! Welcome to the central place to discuss the 2018 FIA Formula One Australian Grand Prix!

    It has been a long winter break for Formula One fans, and with many countries still suffering from cold and often wet weather, it's time for the Grand Prix circus to warm up our souls and head out to the beautiful Albert Park street circuit for the opening round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship!

    New cars, new drivers and new rules - but will it be the usual contenders at the head of the field?

    Enjoy the weekend and share your hopes, expectations and opinions in the comments section below!

    Session Report Links
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
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  2. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE - PART 1 - DRIVERS – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari), Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull)

    2018 Australian Grand Prix Discussion Thread Thursday Practice.jpg

    Let’s start with our world champion and six-time pole sitter here at Albert Park, Lewis Hamilton. Lewis, I think you said over the winter that you felt that last year was the best you’ve driven in your Formula 1 career. Do you anticipate having to go to another level this year in competition these gentlemen?

    Lewis HAMILTON: I plan to. That’s what I’ve been working towards.

    Why did you feel that last year was your best? What had to come together for you?

    Lewis HAMILTON: It was just a combination of things and obviously with the pressure that was on us as drivers, I think it was just the most complete year.

    Thank you. A simple question for you Sebastian: can you and Ferrari find the speed to beat this guy over a whole season this year?

    Sebastian VETTEL: We don’t have the answer now. We try. It’s a long season. If it was one race it would be a different story, but it is a lot of races.

    To you, Daniel: in the last few years Red Bull have not been competitive at the opening round. This year it looks like you had better winter preparation, so do you think this could be your most effective Australian Grand Prix for a while?

    Daniel RICCIARDO: I believe so. We had a good winter. It’s all there in front of us now. I think we’re still the top three teams – Merc, Ferrari and us. I think we’re still going to be leading the pack for now. So hopefully we’ll be deep in that group and have a chance to stand up on the podium.

    Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, how important is it to you to carry on ahead of Sebastian in terms of stats in your career and end your career ahead of him as well?

    LH: It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about to be honest. I don’t particularly have an opinion towards it. I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can to continue fighting up the front and hopefully with that comes some good results.

    Here’s one for you: if you won from pole it’s an all-time record, you beat Michael’s record. Something to aim for.

    LH: Ah, OK.

    Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Lewis, you say you don’t chase stats but you have recognised that you could reach Fangio’s record this season. Have you thought about that some more now that you are at the start of the season?

    LH: I have not, honestly. It’s a long, long season so you don’t really think about those kind of things, you don’t think about what could be in the sense of matching others. In my mind I’m trying to break down new barriers, push the envelope. Trying to see how far I can take, firstly, the opportunity I have and then obviously the ability I have and live to my full potential. I don’t know what that is, and that’s what I’m discovering.

    Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Lewis, how important is it to you to carry on ahead of Sebastian in terms of stats in your career and end your career ahead of him as well?

    LH: It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about to be honest. I don’t particularly have an opinion towards it. I’m just going to keep working as hard as I can live to my full potential and that’s what I am discovering.

    Q: (Leon Alepidis – F1fan) A question to all of you. As Renault is already considering strategically to have a fourth engine for the year. Assuming you will all stay at that do you put your faith in your team to go on with three. Would consider down the line, in the closing stages of the championship, to go for a fourth engine in order to avoid a DNF and a penalty instead of only a penalty?

    DR: It’s hard to start thinking about that now. I had a few engine penalties last year and we’ve got one less [engine] this year so it’s likely – I don’t want to say it’s definite – but it’s obviously likely that we may encounter something like that or everyone may encounter something like that. I think it depends where you are in the championship. If you try to cut your losses I guess then maybe that’s what you’ll do but it’s for sure too early to start thinking about that. I think we’ll stay optimistic and try to get these three home to Abu Dhabi.

    What about you Sebastian, have you looked at it. Is there a performance gain in using four across the season?

    SV: I’m sure we looked at it. I don’t think it’s the plan but I’m very confident that we’re not using four engines this weekend, so we don’t need to worry now.

    And Lewis?

    LH: I don’t really have much more to say.

    Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport) Daniel, you say the team is the best prepared it’s been in quite a while. Is that more pressure on you? It that more pressure, more fun, less fun? How do you look at it?

    DR: It has to be more fun. Not starting last year wasn’t fun at all. So it has to be more fun. Even little things. Last year we missed the anthem on the grid because I was in the garage trying to get the thing going, or be there for when it got going. I missed a lot of the Sunday build-up, which was not fun. For sure this preparation is going to mean more fun this weekend and we’ll see where that fun takes us?

    Q: (Ian Gordon – The Mirror) Lewis, you said you’re pushing the envelope. Do you think you’ve reached your peak as a driver or are you still learning?

    LH: I hope not.

    Q: (Ian Gordon – The Mirror) Is it a peak age for a driver? Or do you just carry on learning?

    LH: Again I hope not. I’m sure there is a peak when for a driver when their fitness level…. When it gets harder to reach the fitness level that we do today. When your interest starts to decline, when your drive starts to decline, I guess that’s when you’re over your peak. But I definitely don’t feel I’m that. I’m definitely in a good range now and that’s where I need to continue, to extract the most from it.

    How about you two? Daniel, are you peaking?

    DR: Not yet, still young.


    SV: I don’t know. I think it’s fine. Lewis is a little bit older and he’s not peaking yet, so I have got plenty to look forward to.

    Q: (Andreas Haupt – Auto Motor und Sport) What is your opinion about the additional DRS zone and is it helpful or not?

    DR: I don’t think it hurts. It’s typically been a pretty hard track to overtake. I think, as well, with the cars, we’re going faster and faster and following a car is getting harder and harder at some circuits, so I think they’ve been proactive and tried to help out a cause here. I don’t know if it will necessarily create overtaking into that corner but it may at least put you into the zone to then have a chance somewhere else.

    LH: I think Daniel answered it well.

    SV: Agree.

    Q: (Louis Dekker - NOS) Do you think the next world champion is sitting behind the table now, or standing outside speaking Dutch?

    DR: Why are you looking at me?

    LH: I don’t have answer for you. [Sebastian] do you have a better answer?

    SV: I think we hope the one sits here. I think it’s obvious no?

    Let’s put it this way, do you think the one outside speaking Dutch is ready to challenge for a world championship?

    SV: Who do you mean?

    LH: There are a lot of Dutch people here.

    SV: Especially for TV and journalists.


    DR: We’ll add a ninth to this table?

    SV: What?

    DR: We’ll add a ninth to this table. We’ve got eight between us.

    Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, one of your former team-mates this week said that inconsistency was your biggest weakness. I’m just wondering whether you think that’s the case. And Seb, what’s your plan to beat Lewis. Have you thought over the winter about the best way to do that?

    LH: I think I proved that’s not the case last year and… yeah… again, I think there’s a lot of people that need to get headlines, and so maybe that’s one way of saying it. No, the goal this year is to be even more consistent that I was last year. I think consistency was the reason that I won the Championship last year.

    And Seb, do you have a master plan?

    QSV: Yeah, all laid out – but it’s not with me, it’s in my room, so, of course, top secret, so I can’t give you any details.

    Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) Sebastian, do you see any weaknesses in Lewis? How would you describe them, or see them? What are they? If there are any.

    SV: Well, there aren’t many, so I think he’s doing a very, very good job for many years now. So, I think it’s always a bit of a weird question to answer when the person is sitting right next to you. But, as I said, there aren’t many. I’m sure we all have our weaknesses. Maybe some are part of our characters, maybe some are part of our driving – but to be honest I don’t think about those too much. I think about mine quite a lot and try to get better at what I need to improve. But yeah, concerning other people, it’s not in my hands. So, I try to finish my plate.

    LH: I think I share the same weakness with everyone in this room. Everyone loves pancakes. That’s really my only weakness.

    What’s yours?

    DR: Pancakes again.

    Q: (Ben Hunt – The Sun) Lewis, are you up for it this year? You seem a little bit jaded here – I don’t know if it’s jetlag or whatnot – but are you up for the fight this year?

    LH: I’m definitely not tired – this is the 12th season of doing the press conference. I’m not the most excited about this section of the season and the race weekend – but I’m looking forward to getting in the car.

    Are you up for the fight?

    LH: Of course.

    Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, were you surprised that Kimi started an Instagram – and are you planning to follow the example?

    SV: ‘Yes’, and ‘no’ are my answers. Finnish answers. Short.

    Q: (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Sebastian, can I take you back to your first answer, you were asked if you could beat Lewis and you said ‘if it was one race it would be a different story but maybe over the season’ or something like that. Does that mean you’re not confident this weekend that Ferrari are…?

    SV: …no but I think the question was whether we… who’s coming out of top, sort of. I think Mercedes is right and I think Lewis is right to be the favourite, to put for this year – but it’s a long season so I think, y’know, obviously, this is one race, Melbourne is particular in many ways. I think we all look forwards to kick off the season, to get ready, get in the car and race. I think, y’know, we have all the reasons to be confident. Our car is great. There’s stuff to come, so plenty to look forward to – but usually at this point you don’t know where the others are. So, that’s why it’s a bit pointless to come here and say that you’ll blow everyone away. Based on testing I think we are in good shape. We could be in better shape but it’s always like that.

    Q: (Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail) To Sebastian again, how would it mean for you to go level with Fangio?

    SV: I think it’s a bit of a similar answer to what Lewis gave earlier. Obviously, I’ve had more time to think about it than Lewis had. More than one winter. But… yeah… I don’t know. I’m not setting these things out and planning or looking forward to what could possibly happen. Certainly, if it will happen it would mean a lot – and then I think you start to realise – but now I don’t see the point of thinking ‘what if’. I have a lot on my plate now and I’m happy also to look forward to what’s right in front of me, not what could be at some point in the future. Ideally, it’s less than 12 months away – but it’s a long way. I think we all know how many things need to come together to be able to fight for the championship towards the end of the season. And then to win it. Yeah. Also, I think nowadays the times are different. I think it’s very different times to when Fangio achieved it, compared to today. So, every era has its own challenges, certainly they were a bit different back then. So yeah, it’s not in my mind now, let’s say.

    (Q: Yianni Mavromoustakos, talkingtorque.com.au) question for all three drivers: how do you feel about the shift in direction of Formula One since the takeover of Liberty Media?

    LH: I don’t know what to say. I just heard the new anthem. Reminded me of [TV programme] Gladiators. Do you remember Gladiators in England? Used to watch that on a Saturday night. We’re going to be the new Gladiators. I think there’s been a lot of good progress over the last year in terms of how we engage with people and how we engage with fans and the openness – but I think it’s still part of a long process of learning where to go. I don’t think anyone in this room knows exactly what is the key to Formula One moving forwards and succeeding. I think it’s a very difficult question to answer but I think they’re doing the best they can and we’re all trying to support them the best way we can.


    DR: I agree with that. I think there’s been some good initiatives as well within the paddock. Especially at a lot of the European races with the fixed team structures. Feels like week-in, week-out you’re just rolling into the same deal and everyone goes straight to their motorhome and that’s kind of it – but there’s generally a lot of friends or fans or VIPs whatever in and amongst the paddock but they’re secluded. They’ve tried to create like a bar and a bit of a common area, got some music going in the paddock, and just create a bit more of an atmosphere. Again, the on-track stuff for us, the racing, that doesn’t change, but at least the fans, spectators for the weekend get a good deal. I think Melbourne’s always done a good job as far as putting things on, as the whole weekend goes, like filling it up with other racing and other activities, so I think they’re learning to adopt some strategies to create more of an event around the race, so everyone’s not just living for that Sunday afternoon: there’s more going on.

    How about you Seb? You’ve said you’re not getting any closer to getting into social media – but what do you think of the job that’s being done globally?

    LH: …I thought you were on social media!

    SV: No.

    LH: I think I’m following… someone

    SV: Well, to whoever it is, congratulations! It’s not me. What did I want to say now? Yeah, from a driving point of view there’s obviously not that much that has changed. The regulations have been set before there was new people taking over. I think it’s great to see and I heard last year continuously around the track people supporting us. There were more things to do, it was a bit more fun, which I think is great. In general, I think I’m a traditionalist and I like to hold on to certain things, so probably there’s a lot of things I’m not a specialist in and I don’t need to understand – so I’m a bit… yeah, confused why the races start later, a bit sad that there are no more grid girls – but other than that, not many changes yet. I think we need to wait.

    Q: (Chip Le Grand – The Australian) It’s a rare thing in any sport when you have two enduring champions that are both at the peak of their powers so for you, Lewis and Sebastian, how special is it to share your careers in this way and heading into this season where I guess we’re all looking at it as a bit of a decider, how much additionally special does that make it, knowing that the other guy is so good?

    LH: Ultimately it’s a privilege to be in Formula One, it’s a privilege to be racing for the teams that we’re racing for and for me and Mercedes, with the heritage that they have, to be a part of the sport that’s progressing and changing with the times and to be at the forefront of it, competing against the best drivers that you can compete against, I think that’s… when you come to the end of your career, you want to know that you competed against the best. There are those that bow out early, there are those that have won championships maybe that have not been as competitive and the ultimate goal is to be… to be the best, I think you have to go up against the best. It’s been a great experience to be able to race against Sebastian, he’s got the four World titles, the most of any other driver at the time and I think this is an exciting year for Formula One fans, being that we have two four time World Champions battling it out but Daniel’s been smiling quite a lot today so I think you’re going to be surprised this weekend just how competitive Red Bull are. There’s a lot of hype around our team, for example which I think is very difficult to really take much notice of because the last test was a little bit distorted with the track the way it was and everyone was on different fuel loads so I’m excited to see how we all fare up once we get into practice.

    SV: Well, I think if you… I agree with Lewis. Obviously first of all it’s a privilege to be able to get a chance to prove yourself in Formula One, then to be able to race in Formula One. Then I think when you get in it’s all about winning. You want to win, you don’t look at anything else. Probably later on, after you’ve won a little bit, you get a bit more perspective and open your horizons as well and then I think it becomes something special to win against the best. In my case, obviously, I think if I look at the people I raced throughout my career then I think it’s always been sort of the same people which starting from karting age, even if I didn’t race Lewis in karting but you were aware. Then you move on, we met a little bit later in Formula Three where he was a lot better than I was and then in Formula One ultimately but yeah, then you care more about who you race against and what it means to you, it gives you more satisfaction. And now, obviously, I’m searching for the ultimate satisfaction to win with Ferrari which is the greatest team in history, the greatest team in the paddock and that’s my ultimate target now, to win with Ferrari and win against the best which arguably… I’m sure there’s plenty of numbers that you’re all aware of, arguably, and Lewis is one of them.

    Q: (Phil Branagan – Auto Action) Lewis and Sebastian, as Daniel sits here today, he doesn’t have a deal for 2019. What would you like to say to encourage him to join your respective teams next season?

    SV: I don’t know. I’m sure he’ll find a seat so yeah, I don’t know what he’s up to or what he wants. I don’t know how much he’s asking but as I said… I’m confident he’ll find a seat. We only shared one year together, I knew him before that and we had one year together which wasn’t great for me, it was great for him. But anyways, I think we get along so I wouldn’t mind if we get together again in the future but I don’t know what his plan… I think he has a couple of options and I don’t think he needs to rush.

    Q: Lewis, do you feel the same way?

    LH: I would just say that an important thing is just really to look at the history of drivers and things that drivers have said in the past and try not to alienate the team that you’re in. It’s all good and while hoping at some stage to experience something new in another team but there’s a lot of people in our teams and it’s really important to keep them encouraged and focused on you as a driver, to help you achieve your goal and if you look at… there are some drivers of recent years who have made bad decisions in upsetting and rocking the boat and that so yeah, he’s in a great place still. Red Bull, I think, this year can really have a fighting chance to win the championship and the opinion of where you might want to go, if it’s not where he currently is, may shift.

    Q: We have to have your rebuttal to that, Daniel.

    DR: Well said, well said by both. Yeah, I feel like I’ve answered already so many like contract talks and we haven’t even got the first race of this year done so yeah, I’m just going to put all those talks on hold for a while and yes, this is a year which… obviously our prep’s been well, our prep’s been good and I really really hope that Lewis is right that we will have a chance to fight for a title and that will ultimately make me very happy and then we will then… I think, yeah, as Seb said, take my time and then see what happens in… ask me in six months’ time.

    Q: (Gaetan Vigneron – RTBF) Last year the rules imposed numbers on the car, the name of the driver and so on. And this year, with the halo, it’s even impossible to recognise the helmets of the drivers. Is the drivers’ identification something you care about for the viewers, for the fans, for the TV commentators and do you have any suggestions to improve the situation?

    SV: We should be allowed to design the halo.

    LH: I don’t have a suggestion for it but I have noticed that you… it’s almost pointless of us painting the helmets nowadays so I’m probably going to get rid of my paint on mine. Saves weight but yeah, I don’t really have a suggestion for it. I’m sure they’ll come up with something.

    Q: Is it important to you, was it important to you as a fan when you saw the drivers’ helmets coming out when you were a kid?

    SV: Yeah, yeah, definitely and obviously we can’t negotiate the position of the halo, we can’t put it at the back of the car. I don’t know, maybe it should be up to us to design the halo, I don’t know. That could be an idea, just to add an element to what makes it different from the rest.

    DR: Yeah, the only thing I could think of was putting something on the halo to distinguish teammates. I think we… is it the camera or the rollhoop or whatever that sometimes one driver has yellow so you can kind of tell a little bit there so maybe do something between teammates with the halos just to give fans a little bit of an idea who’s behind the wheel because yeah, you don’t really see the helmet now? We are pretty hidden. Yeah, that’s all I can think of for now short term.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  3. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Free Practice One Report

    Business as usual in Australia as the Grand Prix grid take to the track for opening practice.

    Australian Grand Prix FP1.jpg
    Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes pick up in 2018 where they left off last year - at the very top of the timesheets.

    Mercedes would meet and eventually exceed expectations in FP1 for the Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton laying down an impressive marker to top the time sheets by over half a second from his Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas, leaving expected 2018 rivals Ferrari and Red Bull trailing far behind on a sunny morning in Melbourne.

    With it appearing to be more of the same at the front of the field, it would be down to an impressive Haas of Romain Grosjean to take most of the headlines in his Ferrari powered Haas VF-18, showing plenty of consistency and speed throughout the morning before eventually clocking a time good enough for seventh overall, just ahead of a newly invigorated Fernando Alonso in his bright orange McLaren Renault, happy to return to the top ten with an eventual eighth place finish despite a late start to his opening running of the 2018 season.

    Some of the significant pace displayed by Mercedes could be attributed to the silver cars preference on running the new Ultrasoft tyre, a step softer than the preferred softs enjoyed by Ferrari for much of the afternoon. However with a + 7 tenth deficit to the Mercedes team and a further tenth off from Ferrari, it could be a difficult weekend ahead for anyone not driving a German engineered silver car in Australia....

    Provisional FP1 Results
    1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:24.026
    2. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:24.577 +0.551s
    3. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer = 1:24.771 +0.745s 26
    4. Kimi Räikkönen - Ferrari - 1:24.875 +0.849s 23
    5. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1:24.995 +0.969s 22
    6. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:25.063 +1.037s 25
    7. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari - 1:25.730 +1.704s 24
    8. Fernando Alonso - McLaren Renault - 1:25.896 +1.870s 16
    9. Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1:25.922 +1.896s 23
    10. Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren Renault - 1:26.482 +2.456s 15
    11. Pierre Gasly - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:26.494 +2.468s 25
    12. Sergey Sirotkin - Williams Mercedes - 1:26.536 +2.510s 25
    13. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:26.583 +2.557s 25
    14. Esteban Ocon - Force India Mercedes - 1:26.605 +2.579s 30
    15. Lance Stroll - Williams Mercedes - 1:26.636 +2.610s 30
    16. Sergio Perez - Force India Mercedes - 1:26.767 +2.741s 26
    17. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari - 1:27.035 +3.009s 13
    18. Brendon Hartley - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:27.745 +3.719s 16
    19. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber Ferrari - 1:27.964 +3.938s 28
    20. Charles Leclerc - Sauber Ferrari - 1:28.853 +4.827s 28
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  4. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Free Practice Two Report

    Tight at the top as Mercedes continue to dominate in Melbourne.

    Australian Grand Prix FP2.jpg
    Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes continued an impressive start to the season in Australia, despite the top of the times tightening up considerably thanks to a resurgent Red Bull and Ferrari picking up the fight again.

    Practice Two would see plenty of track action as the teams and drivers in Melbourne got down to some serious work ahead of qualifying day Saturday, with Lewis Hamilton dipping into the 1:23's for the first time with both Red Bull and Ferrari decided to turn up to the races and throw some pressure the way of the all dominant Mercedes team, ending the day with an impressive half second covering the top five drivers on the time sheets.

    With an increase in pace came an increase in off track action for some of the drivers in Australia, Mercedes front runner Vatteri Bottas, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon all finding the outer limits of a still dusty and slippery Albert Park circuit. Friday was run under clear sky and sunshine, but the forecast for tomorrow remains cold and wet - leaving pretty much everything to play for in the first qualification session of the 2018 Formula One season.

    FP2 Provisional Results:
    1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:23.931
    2. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:24.058 +0.127s
    3. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:24.159 +0.228s
    4. Kimi Räikkönen - Ferrari - 1:24.214 +0.283s
    5. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1:24.451 +0.520s
    6. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari - 1:24.648 +0.717s
    7. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:24.721 +0.790s
    8. Fernando Alonso - McLaren Renault - 1:25.200 +1.269s
    9. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari - 1:25.246 +1.315s
    10. Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren Renault -1:25.285 +1.354s
    11. Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1:25.390 +1.459s
    12. Sergio Perez - Force India Mercedes - 1:25.413 +1.482s
    13. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:25.463 +1.532s
    14. Lance Stroll - Williams Mercedes - 1:25.543 +1.612s
    15. Esteban Ocon - Force India Mercedes - 1:25.888 +1.957s
    16. Brendon Hartley - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:25.925 +1.994s
    17. Pierre Gasly - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:25.945 +2.014s
    18. Sergey Sirotkin - Williams Mercedes - 1:25.974 +2.043s
    19. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber Ferrari - 1:26.814 +2.883s
    20. Charles Leclerc - Sauber Ferrari - 1:26.815 +2.884s
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  5. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Free Practice Three Report

    Wet and cold but Ferrari finally warming up in Australia.

    Australian Grand Prix FP3.jpg
    Free Practice 3 for the 2018 Australian Grand Prix would be an all Ferrari affair up front, as rain makes running difficult at Albert Park.

    A mixture of difficult and slipper conditions out on circuit, combined with a general lack of spare parts so early into the season, led to a rather quiet third Free Practice session in Australia this morning, with few teams taking to the track during the 60 minute session ahead of an important qualification later this afternoon.

    The day begin wet thanks to a heavy overnight downpour washing away much of the rubber laid down at this notoriously dusty Albert Park street circuit, and as such very few teams decided to take too many risks in the early part of FP3, with Force India even going so far as to allow both drivers just the single sighting lap before restricting the bright pink cars to the garage for the reminder of the session.

    Restbite for the fans trackside would come towards the end of the morning however as warm conditions allowed the circuit to dry reasonably quickly, resulting in a flurry of activity as several drivers looked to take advantage of the better conditions during the final 15 minutes to circulate the track and gather some data ahead of qualifying later today, resulting in something of a unrepresentative final timesheet spread over an 12 second difference between front to back of the times.

    Provisional FP3 Results:
    1. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1:26.067 15
    2. Kimi Räikkönen - Ferrari - 1:28.499 +2.432s 13
    3. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber Ferrari - 1:28.890 +2.823s 14
    4. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:31.680 +5.613s 8
    5. Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1:33.172 +7.105s 11
    6. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:34.043 +7.976s 14
    7. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 1:34.174 +8.107s 14
    8. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:34.225 +8.158s 7
    9. Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren Renault - 1:34.233 +8.166s 15
    10. Fernando Alonso - McLaren Renault - 1:34.298 +8.231s 13
    11. Pierre Gasly - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:34.990 +8.923s 16
    12. Brendon Hartley - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:35.438 +9.371s 16
    13. Sergey Sirotkin - Williams Mercedes - 1:35.589 +9.522s 16
    14. Lance Stroll - Williams Mercedes - 1:35.828 +9.761s 8
    15. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari - 1:36.171 +10.104s 6
    16. Charles Leclerc - Sauber Ferrari - 1:36.448 +10.381s 12
    17. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari - 1:36.807 +10.740s 7
    18. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:38.482 +12.415s 8
    19. Esteban Ocon - Force India Mercedes 1
    20. Sergio Perez - Force India Mercedes 1
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Qualifying Report

    Hamilton dominates as Bottas has work to do on Sunday.
    F1 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying.jpg
    Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes dropped the hammer in qualifying today, dominating an afternoon that saw team mate Valtteri Bottas severely damage his car early in Q3.

    Run under dry conditions following the overnight downpour in Australia, the first qualification session of 2018 would be a fairly sober affair out on the circuit, giving fans a first glimpse of a new Formula One running order that for all intents and purposes looks much like the last few years in Grand Prix racing.

    The action started right from the drop of the green flag with a fierce fight to secure a spot in Q2 between the Toro Rosso, Williams and Sauber Alfa Romeo teams, a fight that would end up advantage Williams thanks to a solid lap from second year driver Lance Stroll to wind up in 14th place, demoting his team mate Sergey Sirotkin to the bottom five alongside Brandon Hartely at Toro Rosso, an out of sorts Sauber pairing and the second Toro Rosso Honda of Gasly, who found himself off track in his attempts to wield his reluctant car around the low grip Albert Park circuit.

    Q2 would prove less successful for an obviously struggling Williams outfit, Stroll scoring 14th place on the grid sandwiched between the surprisingly uncompetitive Force India of pairing of Perez in 13th and last seasons star rookie Ocon, bringing up the rear of Q2 in P15.

    Lurking around the top ten times but eventually falling just short would be McLaren pairing Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, both drivers pushing hard and falling just short of the required pace as they wound up 11th and 12th positions respectively, over half a second shy of the works Renault team in what was something of a disappointing day of running for a squad hopeful of getting back into the points and podiums fight this year.

    On to Q3 and it would be a dramatic story for Mercedes and Vatteri Bottas as the Finnish driver spectacularly dropped his car on the exit of turn one, losing the rear and heavily contacting the outside wall, putting pay to the remainder of the day for Bottas and causing significant damage that will necessitate a sizeable rebuild overnight, and pitlane start for the under pressure driver in tomorrows race.

    Such problems would not befall reining champion teammate Hamilton, the four time title winner performing flawlessly in his new machine, dominating the running on track by over half a second ahead of a very impressive Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari, the Finn finally showing some of the old form that made the 2007 World Champion such a favourite with fans and teams alike. Räikkönen would be on star form all day, pushing his Ferrari to the absolute maximum as he eventually out qualified teammate Vettel by under a tenth, forming a sea of red behind the all dominant Mercedes of Hamilton out front of the field.

    Red Bull would be a distant fourth and fifth for Verstappen and Ricciardo respectively, although second to fourth would be covered by a fraction under one tenth, leaving the prospect of a solid fight for the lesser podium positions on the cards even if it looks like the race win is already heading to a forgone conclusion out at the front of the field...

    Closing out the top ten would be the impressive Haas pairing of Magnussen and Grosjean in sixth and seventh places respectively followed by the works Renault pairing of Hulkenberg and Sainz ahead of a luckless Bottas in the second Silver Arrow.

    Provisional Qualification Result:
    1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:21.164 20
    2. Kimi Räikkönen - Ferrari - 1:21.828
    3. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1:21.838
    4. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:21.879
    5. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer - 1:22.152
    6. Kevin Magnussen - Haas Ferrari - 1:23.187
    7. Romain Grosjean - Haas Ferrari - 1:23.339
    8. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 1:23.532
    9. Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1:23.577
    10. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - DNF
    11. Fernando Alonso - McLaren Renault - 1:23.692
    12. Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren Renault - 1:23.853
    13. Sergio Perez - Force India Mercedes - 1:24.005
    14. Lance Stroll - Williams Mercedes - 1:24.230
    15. Esteban Ocon - Force India Mercedes - 1:24.786
    16. Brendon Hartley - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:24.532
    17. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber Ferrari - 1:24.556
    18. Charles Leclerc - Sauber Ferrari - 1:24.636
    19. Sergey Sirotkin - Williams Mercedes - 1:24.922
    20. Pierre Gasly - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda - 1:25.295

    Q1 107% time - 1:28.621

    Note - Ricciardo penalised three grid places for speeding under red flags in practice.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

    Race Report

    Ferrari makes a Hass of Mercedes VSC for Australian Grand Prix victory
    Australian Grand Prix Race Report.jpg
    Ferrari scored an unlikely race victory in Australia despite a pace deficit to main rivals Mercedes, setting up a thrilling 2018 championship opener.

    Hamilton and Mercedes managed to throw away near certain victory in Australia thanks to a surprise Virtual Safety Car following double pitstop calamity for the Haas F1 team, opening the door for a spirited Vettel driven Ferrari to match his 2017 performance in Melbourne, coming away from the opening round of the 2018 Formula One season as championship leaders in both driver and constructors standings.

    The new regulations and a dusty circuit made for a very interesting race in Australia with little to choose between the top four drivers at the end of the 58 laps of running this morning. Hamilton topped out every session of the weekend and led away comfortably from the Ferrari duo in the opening laps, pulling a comfortable 3 + second gap over an in form Räikkönen, as the Englishman looked to establish enough advantage to see them through the first pitstop window - something that would be countered by Vettel staying out longer on his purple striped tyres as the German looked to run a counter strategy to his Ferrari team mate and the Mercedes up front.

    Running long would prove to be a fortuitous decision for Ferrari, as first Magnussen and then Grosjean came in for a stop only to find loose wheels forcing a premature stop on track, giving Vettel the perfect opportunity to stop under VSC conditions and emerge ahead of Hamilton on track, with significantly fresher tyres on his Ferrari machine.

    From that point on Vettel was faultless up front, holding onto his advantage even as Hamilton ran wide at the chicane trying desperately to close the gap to his potential main championship rival. Ominously for the field Hamilton would have devastating pace in clean air on old tyres following his off track excursion, leaving few in doubt that despite the 25 points Ferrari still have plenty to do to get on par with the Silver Arrows this season.

    Further down the field it would be a difficult but spectacular day for Red Bull, Max Verstappen having a messy drive and early spin on route to sixth place overall, and Daniel Ricciardo still searching for that first (official) podium result in front of his adoring home crowd.

    McLaren and Toyota WEC driver Fernando Alonso would be feisty all race before finishing a very, very solid fifth, ahead of the works Renault team and scoring a rare double points finish for an outfit that has struggled badly in recent seasons.

    Not a bad start at all....

    Provisional Race Results:
    1. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari 58 1:29:33.283 25
    2. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes 58 +5.036s 18
    3. Kimi Räikkönen - Ferrari 58 +6.309s 15
    4. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 58 +7.069s 12
    5. Fernando Alonso - McLaren Renault 58 +27.886s 10
    6. Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 58 +28.945s 8
    7. Nico Hulkenberg - Renault 58 +32.671s 6
    8. Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes 58 +34.339s 4
    9. Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren Renault 58 +34.921s 2
    10. Carlos Sainz - Renault 58 +45.722s 1
    11. Sergio Perez - Force India Mercedes 58 +46.817s 0
    12. Esteban Ocon - Force India Mercedes 58 +60.278s 0
    13. Charles Leclerc - Sauber Ferrari 58 +75.759s 0
    14. Lance Stroll - Williams Mercedes 58 +78.288s 0
    15. Brendon Hartley - Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +1 lap 0

    DNF Romain Grosjean GRO Haas Ferrari 24 DNF 0
    DNF Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas Ferrari 22 DNF 0
    DNF Pierre Gasly GAS Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 13 DNF 0
    DNF Marcus Ericsson ERI Sauber Ferrari 5 DNF 0
    DNF Sergey Sirotkin SIR Williams Mercedes 4 DNF 0
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  8. nico80131


    Remove halo
    • Like Like x 6
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. billymitchell


    I wonder what it will take for me to NOT think of this when I hear “Australian Grand Prix”...

  10. Mark Ratzenbacher

    Mark Ratzenbacher

    I wasn´t aware Halo would block the Onboard-cams :o

    The one next to the helmet is useless now, the one on top of the airbox reminds of the look ouside of a baby carriage ;)
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Haha Haha x 1
  11. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill

    I need a pep talk - right now, feeling like we should just hand Lewis the WDC and get it over with. :sleep:
    • Disagree Disagree x 2
  12. Luke Cage

    Luke Cage

    Representation of how F1 is now.

    • Haha Haha x 17
    • Beer Beer x 3
  13. neuer31


    • Camera placement: Sucks (Halo in the way)
    • Microphone placement: Sucks (they seem to have messed it up)
    • HUD readability: Sucks (bad font and partially bad color usage / contrast)
    • Halo: Sucks (better Aeroscreen)
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Beer Beer x 1
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  14. johndough247


    I hate the way the halo looks too, but I can't help but wonder if all this halo-bashing will stop if it turns out it saves a life this season...
  15. aka2k


    They should at least dress the halos with woman's panties to make them a little more bearable.
    • Haha Haha x 4
  16. darkelf1


    After driving F1 2018 mod in AC, ah ,the Halo is a pain in the ass..:confused::confused::confused::cautious::redface:
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. davewilliams000


    I think I'm having my usual pre-season slump (same as the last few years), where I don't feel like I'm that interested in it and can't be bothered with it, even though I've followed F1 since about 1992. This is probably not helped by this year I am interested in a lot more race series as well (IMSA, Blancpain in addition to WEC). However, when it comes time for the race I'll likely pick up my interest.

    I am a Hamilton fan (of his driving at the least, not necessarily his activities outside the car ;)) , but it looks from the FP1 and FP2 times as though it will possibly be a 3-way fight this year - we'll just have to wait and see.

    As for the halo, I've not watched any on-track action from the practice sessions, but it is what it is.. it's there and we just have to accept it I guess. So long as the racing is good who cares. Having said that with the aero rules the way they are there will never be really close racing. It would have perhaps been better if they had been able to make space to have a cam inside the halo (at the front) so we can get a good view from onboard, or have that cam that sometimes looks back at the driver from the top of the tub, looking the other way instead.
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Yapci


    That onboard camera is ugly as hell...oh men you can just see a halo and to half tires...ugggg
  19. Lazarou


    The Halo looks atrocious especially on the cars with white on them, Sauber, Williams and Force India look ugly. I was apathetic towards it pre season but after seeing the onboard's it looks :poop:. I keep thinking of one of these when it goes to a onboard.

    [​IMG][/IMG] [​IMG][/IMG] [​IMG]

    Also the cars look far to fussy withe all the aero pieces they are allowed to bolt on. Last years cars looked miles better.

    I just hope the racing is decent!
  20. NoseyGuyy


    I've driven with the halo plenty and I barely notice it at all. Both in VR and single screen driving it doesn't hinder visibility at all really, doesn't hinder my ability to battle closely with other cars, and doesn't affect my pace either.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Beer Beer x 1
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