Hamilton had cautioned Mercedes faced a clear deficit to Ferrari in preseason testing, but dropped off Friday day ’s running in Melbourne as if it had been business as usual.
The five-time title winner set a 1m23.599s around the Albert Park circuit to go Vettel by 0.038therefore, with Charles Leclerc only 0.074s behind in his first grand prix session for Ferrari.
Max Verstappen gave Red Bull and Honda an encouraging start to lifetime collectively by reliving the fourth-best period, 0.193s off the pace.
Mercedes spent virtually all of FP1 on top, since Valtteri Bottas became the first frontrunner to specify a purposeful time and head the leader board before Hamilton went speediest after the 2 switched from medium to soft tyres.
Bottas’s soft-tyre run him 0.267therefore slower compared to Hamilton and restricted him to fifth-fastest, but it might have been worse after a near miss down an escape road.
As he approached the penultimate corner, the Finn touched the grass on the outside and went straight on, locking up temporarily and then booting the throttle to carry out neat pirouette — barely avoiding the obstruction on the outside as his car swung around.
New Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly failed to make the form of impact as teammate Verstappen, and lapped 1.3s off the pace in eighth.
That enabled Kimi Raikkonen to put up best-of-the-rest behind the big three, giving Alfa Romeo a historical boost on its own very first grand prix weekend as a complete entrant.
But, Raikkonen has been 1.2s off the pace, indicating the midfield group is no closer to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull compared to before.
Gasly’s no lack of pace in FP1 supposed he also ended up behind his old team, Toro Rosso, and also the driver he substituted in the Red Bull junior outfit in 2017 — Daniil Kvyat.
Even the Russian, which makes his F1 come back after a year since Ferrari development driver, set the seventh-best period and was only two-hundredths of another slower than Raikkonen.
His brand new teammate A-Lex Albon fared well on his grand prix weekend introduction, putting a respectable 13th-fastest time but causing a red flag when he pitched his car into the barriers on the departure of Turn 1 in the last 30 minutes.
Haas has been considered to be the mid-field favourite after testing but Kevin Magnussen was only ninth-quickest in FP1, albeit only a tenth behind Raikkonen.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 after losing time on to an “electronic error”.
McLaren and Running Point needed a muted start to this summer season having its best drivers 14th (Carlos Sainz Jr for McLaren) and 15th (Lance Stroll for Racing Point) respectively.
Yet, those teams were at least latched onto the back of the midfield group, where as Williams was still detached at the back of this area.
Robert Kubica set the team’s time but had been 4.3S-off the pace and also a full two minutes slower compared to the next driver, McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Formula 2 champion George Russell ended FP1 slowest, 0.8therefore slower compared to teammate Kubica.
It’s a troubling early 20-19 for Williams, which has been late to preseason testing, has since lost its chief technological officer Paddy Lowe and made changes for its car design to ensure its own legality ahead of this weekend.