World champion Lewis Hamilton took up where he left off last season with the fastest lap times in opening practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.
Australia’s big hope Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull was seventh fastest in 1:24.721.
Hamilton’s long-run pace looked superior on the ultrasoft tyres, reeling off a steady run of 1:28s, but race pace simulations showed little between the three leading teams.
Red Bull managed to lap in the high 1:28s with Ferrari in the low 1:29s.
🏁 END OF #FP2 🏁
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 23, 2018
Verstappen and Bottas both used soft tyres for the final few minutes of the second practice session, while Raikkonen was on the supersoft for Ferrari.
Hamilton is gunning for his fifth world title this year, an achievement which would match the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and leave him just two adrift of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Bottas and Raikkonen faced the stewards after the session to explain a coming together, when Bottas had to take to the gravel to avoid running into the Ferrari.
The surprise of the opening day was the performance of the Haas team to challenge for the fourth-fastest team on the back of two strong showings from Romain Grosjean.
The second session was halted briefly after a cable was ripped up from underneath the start/finish line, and resumed after officials cut loose the wire.
A fired-up Fernando Alonso yelled down the McLaren team radio: “Maybe because of the halo the people stop looking into their mirrors!” after a close shave with some of his rivals early in the session.
The halo, a safety bar above the cockpit to protect drivers, is a new innovation this season.
Provided by AFP Sport
All of Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton‘s Instagram posts have been deleted, just days after he was criticised for a video he uploaded to the social media platform.
Hamilton posted a video which showed him chastising his nephew for wearing a princess dress on Christmas Day.
The 32-year-old’s actions drew criticism on social media from users who felt his nephew should be free to wear whatever he wanted.
Hamilton took down the Instagram post and later tweeted an apology, which has also now been deleted. He was further criticised for liking some of the replies to his Twitter post, one of which said he had no need to apologise to the “PC brigade”.
”Yesterday I was playing around with my nephew and realised that my words were inappropriate so I removed the post,” Hamilton wrote in his Twitter apology.
”I meant no harm and did not mean to offend anyone at all. I love that my nephew feels free to express himself as we all should.
”My deepest apologies for my behaviour as I realise it is really not acceptable for anyone, no matter where you are from, to marginalise or stereotype anyone.
”I have always been in support of anyone living their life exactly how they wish and I hope I can be forgiven for this lapse in judgement.”
In the initial Instagram video, Hamilton told his 5.7 million followers: ”I’m so sad right now. Look at my nephew.”
The camera then moves to a young boy wearing a blue and pink princess dress and waving around a pink heart-shaped furry wand.
Hamilton asks the small child: ”Why are you wearing a princess dress? Is this what you got for Christmas?”
When his nephew says yes, Hamilton replies: ”Why did you ask for a princess dress for Christmas?”
He then shouts at the boy: ”Boys don’t wear princess dresses!”
The youngster covers his ears with his hands and turns away.
Having wrapped up his fourth drivers’ championship last month, Lewis Hamilton is in the perfect mood to look back on his season and the success of his time at Mercedes, where he’s now won his third title in four years.
Hamilton’s triumph this season comes at the end of a gripping battle with a resurgent Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, and the happy ending to the campaign is a stark contrast to the way 2016 ended, with the Brit narrowly losing out to then-teammate Nico Rosberg in a title battle that was fought as much in the two drivers’ minds as it was on the track.
Losing to Rosberg may have stung, but Hamilton says in an interview with CNN that the loss wasn’t quite a learning experience, even if it motivated him.
“No. Zero,” Hamilton says on whether he learned anything from Rosberg’s triumph. “From all my teammates that I’ve raced with, I don’t generally take much from them. I’d say probably the only teammate I’ve ever really learned something from would have been Fernando [Alonso] — it was my first year in F1.
“After that, I would say I was able to have the experience, so I never felt I was taking anything from another driver. I was just always trying to enhance and unlock my own abilities.”
That being said, however, Hamilton did find a new level mentally, and he says that was crucial to beating Vettel this year.
“The mental side of things was key to this year. That really is the case for a lot of top athletes competing. It’s the smallest thing, we’re talking about small percentages. I think that’s really, for me, been the biggest difference between us.”
He also benefitted from having the best car in the paddock, even if Mercedes were given a huge fright by Ferrari and, later in the season, Red Bull. But Hamilton says he upped his game this season as well.
“I think I came to the team with a good energy but my work ethic is so much better today — so I would have applied that at the beginning. I probably would have five championships right now, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Losing the championship last year enabled me to be the driver and the man I am today.”
His relationship with his team has certainly improved, and both team and driver hope that leads to a contract extension. Hamilton’s current deal expires at the end of next season, but the 32-year-old says he’s not worried.
“Nope. Don’t have any doubts – just have to be very, very good at negotiating…”
Another thing that’s improved is Hamilton’s reputation among his peers. There was a time when he was considered a hothead, even if everyone recognized his talent, but now, as both a four-time champion and one of F1’s veterans, he’s earned a different status among F1’s drivers.
“It’s really come to light the respect I have received from certain drivers, and that’s something I really, really appreciate because naturally you want to be respected by your peers.
“I have that respect for other people that I race with. To hear that reflected and reciprocated, that’s a great feeling.”