Surprise! Lewis Hamilton Is Still Fast & McLaren Still Struggles As F1 Practice Starts In Australia

Death, taxes, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes pacing Formula One practice.

The reigning World Champ paced FP1 and FP2 Friday in Australia where the Mercedes once again asserted their dominance in the F1 world. The Silver Arrows outfit went first and second in FP1 and first and third in FP2. For the fifth consecutive year, it appears Mercedes is once again the odds-on favorite to win the World Championship, again. Mercedes is in the early/ mid-2000’s Ferrari status at this point, pure and utter domination at will.

FP1 Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:24.026 27
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:24.577 +0.551s 29
3 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:24.771 +0.745s 26
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:24.875 +0.849s 23
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:24.995 +0.969s 22
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:25.063 +1.037s 25
7 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:25.730 +1.704s 24
8 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:25.896 +1.870s 16
9 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 1:25.922 +1.896s 23
10 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:26.482 +2.456s

FP2 Results

1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:23.931 35
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:24.058 +0.127s 34
3 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:24.159 +0.228s 34
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 1:24.214 +0.283s 39
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 1:24.451 +0.520s 38
6 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 1:24.648 +0.717s 34
7 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 1:24.721 +0.790s 28
8 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1:25.200 +1.269s 28
9 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 1:25.246 +1.315s 30
10 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 1:25.285 +1.354s 34

First Thoughts

Mercedes once again look the big swinging dicks at the cracker factory. The boys in silver asserted their dominance again and it could be a long season. Thankfully the Dutch gave us a blessing in Max Verstappen so the season isn’t over before it started. Max showed great speed in FP2 only being a tenth off Hamilton is impressive. Hopefully, the orange-clad lad can come through this season with a car that is already better than last seasons RB13.

Ferrari looks like typical Ferrari. They’re here, they exist, they talk like they actually matter but we all know they aren’t going to win shit. If Ferrari doesn’t win the World Championship this year, and they won’t it will be a full decade since the Scuderia’s last world title. It’s hard to puff out your chest when you haven’t done anything in the life of a third grader.

Haas F1 were the darlings of preseason testing and it appears to have been real pace. Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were both in the top 10 during FP2. Grosjean and his brakes were only two tenths off the lap of Sebastian Vettel. Team owner Gene Haas reportedly told the team he wanted to be within half a second of Ferrari this year, it appears his team listened. The Ferrari clone team appears to be ready for a run at some podiums this year.

McLaren Struggled But Also McLaren Is Back? Whaaaaaaa?

McLaren was the last team to get on track in FP1 following an exhaust issue on the Alonso car. Fumes come through here and exit out the back and now we understand how exhaust works. SEND HIM OUT!

Alonso posted the 8th fastest time in both sessions and if we take the average if his difference to Hamilton the McLaren is about 1.5 seconds The McLaren is far faster this year than it was last year and Fernando is a clear threat for points in this opening round. Same can be said for Stoffel Vandoorne who really is starting to look the guy we all saw in F2. McLaren will get their feel for the Renault power unit and the performance will only get better.

Or it could get worse and they look like Toro Rosso at the end of 2017 looking like a Cheech and Chong movie rather than a racing team.

Speaking of Toro Rosso the Red Bull junior team is now the sole home of Honda power units after their split with McLaren. The team turned 40 laps in practice and not once did the power unit fails. A remarkable achievement from Honda.

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