After the Winter break, the opening round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit as teams prepared for the Australian Grand Prix Sunday.
Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn track were run under full sun amid comfortable temperatures, we catch up with some of the teams…
Both drivers began FP1 on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire before transitioning to the Purple ultrasoft. Grosjean’s quick time of 1:25.730 came on his 15th lap shod on ultrasofts. He ran 24 laps and was the seventh-fastest driver. Magnussen’s best time was a 1:27.035 on his 10th lap, also set on ultrasofts. He ran 13 laps and posted the 17th-quickest time. Both drivers dealt with the typically slick track surface in Melbourne, as it only sees racecars about once a year. This makes grip hard to come by, especially early in a race weekend.
Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean wrapped FP2 as the sixth-quickest driver with a time of 1:24.648, which was 1.082 seconds better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the 13th of his 34 laps shod on a set of ultrasoft tires. Magnussen shaved 1.789 seconds off his FP1 time with a lap of 1:25.246 to jump to ninth fastest. His fast lap came on his 13th tour as well, also while utilizing the ultrasoft tire. He completed 30 laps.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 101 laps – 58 by Grosjean and 43 by Magnussen.
The first day of practice at Albert Park saw both Scuderia Ferrari drivers go through an extensive job of data collecting and car set-up work. At the end of the day, Kimi and Seb had covered 62 and 60 laps respectively using all three available tyre compounds (Soft, Supersoft and Ultrasoft,) running various fuel loads.
“It was a pretty normal first day here in Australia”, said Kimi. “Everything felt a bit different from testing, but it’s normal when you are in a different place. The track itself felt much better than last year, in terms of grip. It looks like there are a lot of leaves, but this doesn’t really affect the driving. It’s not easy to find a good set up, but the start today was not too bad. We tried a few things and did our best to improve here and there. We are considering which way we should go and trying to figure out the best way to do that. It’s a normal story, especially at the beginning of the year. Let’s see what the weather brings tomorrow. Tonight we’ll go through all the work we have done today, we’ll pick all the positive things and see what we can do”.
Sebastian commented on his daily routine: “It’s been a rather dull day of work, like every Friday. We tried to chase the balance because I didn’t feel completely comfortable at first, but I’m not worried about that because I know that if we do everything right, the car should be in better shape. It looks like we are close, which is good news, so we should be able to do something tomorrow. This track is particularly tricky, in that if you don’t nail it at first, then there is quite of bit of lap time to be found, and I think we still have much potential to extract. The car is fine; it’s not where we want it to be yet, but if we keep on working, it should be ok. I really hope to make a bigger step than the others”.
Alfa Romeo SauberF1:
The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team has had a busy day of free practices ahead of the Australian Grand Prix. It was the first day on track after the recent winter tests in Barcelona, where the team got its first impression of the new C37. While Marcus Ericsson gave input on the car’s changes since 2017, Monégasque rookie Charles Leclerc had his first laps of the Albert Park circuit. The main focus of the day was on set-up work and tyre management in preparation for the race. A good improvement was made from FP1 to FP2.