This is the first year in succession that the world winner is fastest on a single lap across Melbourne’s bumpy and difficult Albert Park street circuit. And the 0.7 minutes allowance between Hamilton and the fastest Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel is likely to make some hearts sink, after five consecutive Mercedes world titles.
But this isn’t necessarily a signal that the season can be written off today.
For one thing, Hamilton features a total of eight livelihood poles but he’s won just two of these races. For yet another, the gross between Mercedes and Ferrari on Saturday was just about the same because it was a season – and also Ferrari perhaps not just fought for the title to get much 2018, but were prevented from pushing Hamilton even tougher only by a collection of errors.
Ferrari had left pre-season testing with what appeared to be the fastest car. This wasn’t just a media fiction. This was exactly that which Mercedes’ own internal analysis in these performance had educated them.
“I felt so good, we had a decent package to work well with,” Hamilton said as he revealed on testing afterwards thus far restraining the complete Melbourne weekend. “But we’re aware we’re slightly behind. That is what we frankly thought – out of our analysis we actually thought we were behind.
“We’ve not changed the car. We have understood the car, but we haven’t attracted any upgrades. The previous couple of days have felt extremely great .”
Hamilton said the Ferrari was definitely losing time from the corners, instead of the straights, and that he was puzzled as anybody to why the red cars weren’t any longer as quickly since they had looked in Spain.
But I am really thankful for at which the car is. I am aware Ferrari will soon be progressing and I understand tomorrow they will put a great fight.”
Mercedes team manager to to Wolff said:”It wasn’t the best of starts in Barcelona and also we can’t judge whether it was a bit of an outlier because Melbourne is different or if genuinely we have a car that’s as fast as it seemed now.”
Undoubtedly, a crestfallen Vettel is likely to undoubtedly be hoping that is the excuse.
Hamilton has been Britain’s sole representative at f 1 last year but this season he is joined by another drivers born within his home country.
George Russell, Lando Norris and Alexander Albon have done enough in their own junior careers to suggest they could reestablish in f 1, and in the debuts three failed exactly that.
Norris has been the brightest star, setting the McLaren eighth on the grid not only a wonderful performance , but a welcome indication for the team that the restructuring they undertook after their gloomy form annually seems to be working.
Even the 19-year-old was a rip-off team mate Carlos Sainz to get most of the weekend however in qualifying the Spaniard discovered Robert Kubica’s punctured Williams in his second run in the first session and has been pumped out.
But Norris went all the way to the top shoot-out – he and the team admitted wasn’t expected.
“I’m obviously happy with how it ended ,” Norris said.
“A lot of nerves going into it, especially because I never managed to put it alltogether in just about any other run inside all of the weekend. But I am just delighted with how it went making improvements in areas we needed to make improvements.”
Alexander Albon, who races under Thai licence but was born in London and he leans no more than one of his nationalities compared to the other, out-qualified teammate Daniil Kvyat – within his fourth season of f 1 – on virtue.
Albon, who has an attractive, self-effacing fashion, had a catchy first day involving a light crash at Turn 2 but bounced back well.
“Melbourne is perhaps maybe not the kindest path to start out at,” he said. “It’s so bumpy. Of course if you are not comfortable and confident at the car the lap time won’t ever come as you truly need to be with all the track and playing the bumps and the kerbs. It’d take a bit of time to get upto date but we got there at the result in qualifying.
“Being a rookie when the vehicle’s a bit difficult to drive it knocks your confidence more than it will.”
Beating Kvyat must have felt good, but he played with it down, saying:”I was actually a bit on the back foot [to him] the majority of those weekend. It was just like a,’good just to be comfortable.’ It wasn’t like I was unconfident. I was like:’This thing is a tiny monster’. It was . I didn’t know…
“This path, there’s approximately a thousand lines you can do regarding entry kerbs, apex kerbs, go on the astro. There are many places at which you are setting the car in very special regions unlike Barcelona at which you can nearly do what you’d like and get away with everything.
“This was a great session, I’m not going to lie around this. We’ll see come the race.”
And then there’s George Russell, who like Norris took it steadily on day one, but was quicker than team mate Robert Kubica all of Saturday, and had every cause to be satisfied with his performance at a very slow car.
Norris, Albon and Russell have yet to learn, but plenty to prove. But this is a great beginning.
Woe is Williams
From the paddock at Albert Park, the Williams area down the far end, divided from the row of buildings home the other teams – all of side by side – by tyre supplier Pirelli, Red Bull’s engine partner Honda, and the bar area hosted by the game’s official beer sponsor.
The positioning in these construction has been, by coincidence, a fitting and true reflection of where Williams stand competitively – adrift of the remainder of the grid, on their own in a world of pain. Russell has been a massive 1.276 minutes slower than another slowest car.
Throughout the weekend, the deputy team chief Claire Williams was using gallows humor to refer to the particular lace – and also the situation in this team which not too long past was controlling the game now finds itself.
Williams had a terrible season in 2018 – past at the constructors’ championship having a challenging car. This was the hardest season within their own illustrious heritage, but it was nothing in comparison to their present plight.
Just how on the planet have Williams found themselves in this position? It is question being asked over the team, in addition to at the rest of f 1.
Clearly, fingers are pointing at chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who went on what the team called a”leave of absence” a day or two following the conclusion of pre-season testing, which Williams started two and a half days late because the car wasn’t ready at time.
Williams have said Lowe stepped away for”personal reasons”. But few folks in f 1 think those reasons are some thing other than Williams’ anger and shame in the location in which they are, which it sounds they hold low-e responsible.
Lowe has been the lead technological figure for teams who have won championships and races for the previous decade and more, so what exactly has gone wrong at Williams remains a mystery – adding to the group bosses and owners.
This past calendar year, chief designer Ed Wood left the team at the spring after their poor start to the season. At the conclusion of this, performance manager Rob Smedley walked off, and it is presently working for f 1. Neither has been replaced. Today Lowe moved , Williams are moving in to 20-19 without anybody employed in the three most senior technical roles in any F1 staff.
Certainly, any restoration is going to have quite a long time – and also the beginning of this will likely be to find out what has contributed Williams to the place, and also what’s more, the way they escape free from it.
“We knew this season wasn’t going to be easy for people,” Claire Williams explained. “Clearly there are numerous problems to eliminate and flaws that need rectifying in the team. It isn’t merely one particular element. Equally, it’s perhaps not the work of an instant.
“We’re working through the process and confident that in due course we’ll start introducing ourselves at a better method. The real favorable of all this is that the team has lost none of its own soul. Everybody else has their heads down, sleeves rolled up and so is fighting to fix it.”