Slideshow: Hamilton quickest in practice session

PUBLISHED: 12:19 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 22:20 26 October 2009

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Pictures courtesy of www.mclaren.com

LEWIS Hamilton got the 2008 season off to a flying start in Melbourne today (Friday). The 23-year-old McLaren Mercedes driver from Herts was fastest in today s second free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park. Hamilton, who spent

LEWIS Hamilton got the 2008 season off to a flying start in Melbourne today (Friday).

The 23-year-old McLaren Mercedes driver from Herts was fastest in today's second free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

Hamilton, who spent part of his childhood in Hatfield and whose family still live in Tewin, was second quickest in the morning session behind Ferrari's reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen with a time of 1 minute 26.948 seconds.

The Stevenage-born racer then topped the time charts in the afternoon with 1 min 26.559 secs ahead of Aussie Mark Webber.

Hamilton was delighted to be back behind the wheel after finishing runner-up in his rookie season.

He said: "It's great to be back racing and being here in Melbourne where I started my Formula 1 career only a year ago.

"It's always a special feeling to go out of the garage for the first time in practice at the start of a new season.

"There was some good progress with the car, and we made the best use of the ever improving track conditions."

Hamilton is not taking anything for granted ahead of Saturday's qualifying session though.

"Our main opposition looks strong, but it's still too early to tell exactly where we are in comparison," he said.

"All in all a good start to the Australian Grand Prix and the season."

Hamilton's new McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen finished both practice sessions in fourth place.

The flying Finn said: "It was a great feeling to drive out of the garage as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver for the first time. "I enjoy the professionalism of the team and how they operated during today's two sessions."

The Australian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday.

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