Hamilton sets pace before Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton sets pace before Australian Grand Prix
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton

Melbourne - Rosberg crashes in rain-hit F1 practice of Australian GP



By Reuters

Published: Sat 19 Mar 2016, 4:53 PM

World champion Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets for Mercedes in both practice sessions of the Australian Grand Prix on Friday but team mate Nico Rosberg crashed as waterlogged conditions put a dampener on Formula One's season opener.
With intermittent showers blighting the day, the teams head into the race weekend short of set-up work and lacking valuable data on their tyres, meaning qualifying could be a lottery.
Hamilton, bidding for a third successive title with Mercedes, could at least be satisfied with his pace, having been fastest on intermediate tyres in the second session and with the soft set in the first.
The Briton posted a lap of one minute 29.725 seconds in the opener, more than four-tenths of a second quicker than Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat, then 1:38.841 in the second session on an Albert Park track rendered too wet for dry-weather tyres.
"That was a good day. The car performed well and I was lucky to get a couple of dry laps," Hamilton told reporters.
"Hopefully it'll be dry tomorrow, so we can give something back to the fans who braved the weather."
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was second quickest in the later session, nearly half a second adrift of Hamilton, with Ferrari's former world champion Kimi Raikkonen third. Rosberg, who won the final three races of last season, had a day to forget.
Sixth fastest in the opening session, he skidded at turn six in the second run and damaged his front wing in a collision with the barrier.
The German rolled slowly around the track for a few moments before being called to stop, as Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff glared at a television screen in the garage.
Red Bull had a better day, with Kvyat's Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo third behind the Russian in the initial run and fourth-quickest later on. "With the conditions like that and going into an interesting qualifying format tomorrow, it could be an opportunity for us," Ricciardo said. "Hopefully we can sneak up a couple of rows further up than we could in dry conditions."

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton poses for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE--/ AFP / Paul Crock / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE--
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton poses for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE--/ AFP / Paul Crock / --IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE--
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton poses for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. / AFP / Paul Crock
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton poses for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. / AFP / Paul Crock
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton arrives for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. / AFP / SAEED KHAN
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton arrives for the annual drivers portrait picture ahead of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 17, 2016. / AFP / SAEED KHAN
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes a corner during the opening practice session of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. — AFP
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton takes a corner during the opening practice session of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. — AFP
Formula One -  Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 18/03/16 - Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton watches other drivers' times on a screen during the second practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. REUTERS/Brandon Malone
Formula One - Australia Grand Prix - Melbourne, Australia - 18/03/16 - Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton watches other drivers' times on a screen during the second practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. REUTERS/Brandon Malone

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