F1 2014 Australian Grand Prix: Hamilton fastest in Melbourne for Mercedes

PUBLISHED: 11:14 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:31 15 March 2014

Lewis Hamilton siting in his Mercedes car during 2014 Australian Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton siting in his Mercedes car during 2014 Australian Grand Prix practice [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton set the pace in practice for the season-opening 2014 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire was quickest in second practice around the Albert Park circuit this morning (Friday).

Hamilton clocked a best lap of 1m 29.625s to finish top of the timesheets ahead of Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg, who recorded a time of 1m 29.782s.

Hertfordshire-born Hamilton missed most of P1 after his car stopped on track during the installation lap due to a sensor calibration problem.

A consistent second practice saw the Silver Arrows pair top the timesheets, with a total of six Mercedes powered cars in the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton ahead of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton ahead of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“It really was a day of two halves today,” said Hamilton.

“While it was disappointing to not get any track time this morning, these little hiccups are going to happen with the new cars and we’ll have to get used to that.

“It felt like I was on the back foot from there but then we got up to pace quite quickly in P2 and found the balance relatively fast.”

Hamilton’s quickest time in P2 of 1m 29.625s compared to a fastest time of 1m 25.908s in 2013, albeit with harder compound tyres.

Lewis Hamilton siting in his Mercedes car during 2014 Australian Grand Prix practice[Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton siting in his Mercedes car during 2014 Australian Grand Prix practice[Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

The Mercedes star added: “I feel quite comfortable in the car, so overall it’s a positive start but we need to look at the data now and understand where we are.

“We got a nice foundation for the weekend in the second session today [Friday] so hopefully we can build on that in P3 tomorrow afternoon and then see where we are in qualifying.”

His Silver Arrows teammate Rosberg said: “It was so great to be back in the car today and I’m very pleased with the progress that we made.

“As always on a Friday, we don’t really know where we are in terms of pace yet and how much fuel everyone else was running in comparison to our programme.

“It’s definitely going to be very tough on fuel here, as we expected.”

Rosberg added: “The screen on my steering wheel shows the fuel target for each lap and we’re going to have to be very disciplined in the race.

“It’s a pretty good start for us overall and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was encouraged after a tricky start.

He said: “We had a difficult start to the first session with only Nico able to complete any useful running.

“However, these kinds of problems are part of the game with new technology.

“The team did a strong job to prepare for P2 and we recovered well in the second session.

“We ran through our programme as planned and can be pleased with our pace, both on single laps and longer runs.

“Overall, I think we saw a lot more laps today, from a lot more cars, than many people had expected - and that made it a good day for this new era of Formula One.”

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