Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time during Free Practice 2 for the Australian Grand Prix to edge out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by over half a second, whilst Mercedes newcomer Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull’s struggled to get a competitive time on the ultra-soft tyres.
Hamilton set a fastest time of a 1.23.620, which set him 0.540s clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari – who Hamilton consider as ‘favourites’ for the 2017 season.
Consistent through first and second practice sessions, Valtteri Bottas carried a relatively high deficit to world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton; the Finn was 0.556s off Hamilton in FP2.
Story of the session
As the light went green, the two Haas cars were first to head out onto track – with Grosjean leading that particular charge. The Frenchman was first to set a time, which was a 1.26.912, and closely followed was new team-mate Kevin Magnussen, who set a 1.27.307.
Whilst reliability trouble left Alonso stuck in the garage, Vandoorne took to track behind the two Haas cars, but was 2.6s shy of Grosjean’s fastest time.
As more grip was put down on the Albert Park street circuit, Red Bull headed out with Ricciardo on the soft tyres – the Australian went second on his first lap, and two tenths behind Grosjean.
Massa soon headed the time-sheets, with a 1.26.367 on the super-soft tyres, and Toro Rosso’s Kvyat soon went second, less than a tenth behind.
Hamilton headed out on the slower, soft tyre, and immediately headed the time-sheets by 1.1s with a 1.25.283, but was quickly pipped by Bottas by 0.1s, who was running the super-soft tyre.
As Ferrari headed to track, Raikkonen was able to pip fellow countryman to the top of the timesheets by less than a tenth. After getting held up on his first lap, Vettel soon jumped to the top of the time-sheets with a 1.24.926, despite losing time in the final sector.
The first crash of 2017 came some 25 minutes into the session by Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, as the British driver lost the rear end and crashed into the wall at the final corner. As a result, the session was red flagged.
When the action resumed, Verstappen was first to head back on track, with Alonso and Vettel closely followed – who were preparing for their qualifying simulations.
As the drivers started their qualifying runs, Massa’s Williams was brought to a halt, which interrupted various drivers qualifying simulation, thanks to the yellow flags.
Verstappen soon went second on the super-soft tyre, and less than a tenth slower than Vettel’s fastest lap.
The top teams were soon able to set clear laps, with Lewis Hamiltons setting a 1.23.620, and set him half second clear of Sebastian Vettel, who split the two Mercedes.
Raikkonen, who made a mistake on his first attempt, went fourth when he managed to plan a clean lap.
Red Bull left their runs qualifying simulations late, Ricciardo was over a second adrift of Mercedes, and could only go fifth fastest. Verstappen, meanwhile wasn’t improving massively on his lap, and soon went wide off the race track, and collected a lot of grass on his Red Bull RB13.