F1 2016 Australian Grand Prix: Hamilton tops practice timesheets in Melbourne

PUBLISHED: 10:39 18 March 2016 | UPDATED: 13:59 18 March 2016

Lewis Hamilton at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was fastest in both practice sessions on a stop-start rain-interrupted opening day at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The 31-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas driver from Hertfordshire topped both sessions in mixed conditions at the Albert Park circuit.

The three-time world F1 champion clocked a time of 1m 29.725s in first practice this morning, and then went quickest after lunch with a lap of 1m 38.841s on a drying track after intermittent showers.

Hamilton said: “That was a good day. The car performed well and although we didn’t get a huge number of laps in, they were still quite constructive sessions.

“I was lucky to get a couple of dry laps to get a tiny feeling for what the balance is like around here, which was down to some good work from the team to time my runs right.

“Generally, though, I’m just excited to be here and to get back in the car.

“When I was sitting in the garage, I felt like a kid waiting to open his presents at Christmas.

“Hopefully it’ll be a dry day tomorrow [Saturday] so we can get plenty of laps in and give something back to the fans who have braved the weather today.”

While Hamilton continued his title-winning form in practice, Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg was forced to sit out the majority of P2 after contact with the wall at Turn 7.

Rosberg said: “That wasn’t a good start to the weekend for me.

“It was very wet out there, which made it tricky.

“It’s a shame that I lost the car in P2. I just applied a little too much throttle through Turn 7, spun round and touched the wall.

“My front wing was quite damaged, so unfortunately the boys will have some extra work to do tonight.”

He added: “My apologies go to them and a big thank you for their hard work.

“I’m now looking forwards towards qualifying and the race to put in a better performance.”

Both Mercedes drivers used the intermediate and soft compound tyres today.

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes’ executive director (technical), said: “A bit of a frustrating day, which is unfortunate for the first day of the season and for the fans in particular.

“At best, we managed to string one or two sectors together on a track which was only ever dry in certain places.

“Then, in FP2, Nico just lost the back end of the car and collided with the wall, so not the best day overall.

“Fortunately it wasn’t too major. The front wing was damaged and we’ve replaced the left front corner as a precaution – but nothing that will affect him over the rest of the weekend.

“We have a lot of work to do in FP3 tomorrow to prepare for qualifying and the race – but it’s the same for everybody.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how it all plays out and hoping for some dry weather.”

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