Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions for Mercedes at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix – finishing the day half a second ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The German driver managed to split the two Mercedes drivers in the second practice session of the morning and Sebastian is confident that Ferrari can unlock some extra pace ahead of Saturday’s final practice and qualifying sessions: “If I recap my day I would say that we have had some minor issues in the morning that kept us occupied, but in the afternoon it definitely was running smoother. In regards to the balance of the car I am not fully happy – there is definitely potential to improve – and we will.” – Sebastian Vettel said, as reported by Tuttosport.
With team mate Kimi Raikkonen fifth and fourth fastest respectively in the two sessions, the German driver conceded the Scuderia were not as content with progress as they had been in Spain, but explained they have taken a “huge leap” since this time last year: “What I can say from the tests is that we felt pretty comfortable with what we have achieved there,” he added, “and that comfortable feeling is still missing a bit here – but it will come. In the end it is just a time on a time sheet – and that on a Friday. Nothing more. We will try some things for tomorrow and I could imagine finding some time. We’ve made a huge leap forward compared to last season, that is for sure. Still, I am not totally satisfied: as I said before, the balance doesn’t feel one hundred percent right.”
One thing Vettel could say with total certainty, however, was that 2017’s new-spec cars – wider and faster than their predecessors – are a genuine buzz to drive around the tight Albert Park circuit: “It’s faster. And qualifying will make the times melt even more – hopefully the most for us! (Laughs) The corners are super to drive – fast and furious. I think we lose a little on the straights, but sailing through corners is what gives the real thrill!” – Sebastian added.
On the other hand, Kimi Raikkonen said that Scuderia Ferrari can be pleased with its showing during Friday practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but admits the team still has improvements to make: “It was difficult to know what to expect, because you never know what the others are doing in testing, you only know what we are doing,” The 2007 world champion said. “I think overall we can be happy with today. We have to concentrate on what we’re doing and then tomorrow we’ll see where we stand. It’s only Friday, qualifying is only tomorrow and, in any case, I always think that this track is not the most representative of all, it doesn’t give us a clear picture for the rest of the season. It’s quite a special circuit, a lot of things always happen in the race. We can only do our best, so far things feel pretty good and then we’ll see where we are.”
Raikkonen echoed his teammate’s comments that Ferrari still has work to do over the weekend but says it is too early to start predicting the finishing order of Sunday’s race.
“It’s hard to have any expectations before the start of the season, every year when we come here it’s for the first day of the season, with the new cars, but this is a special track too. For sure things could have been slightly better, but this is what Fridays are for and I don’t have much to complain about. We could work on the car, improve it, and we’ll continue to work to make it better for tomorrow. I have no idea what fuel levels everybody was running with today, but, as I said before, we know we have things that we have to improve, and that’s what we’ll be doing overnight.” – Kimi concluded, ahead of the 2017 Australian Grand Prix.