Why Ferrari’s 2018 F1 car’s front end is helping Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen’s resurgent form in Formula 1 has been helped by Ferrari’s decision not to pursue a complicated suspension set-up with its SF71H, suggests Motorsport TV’s technical analyst Craig Scarborough.
The Finn enjoyed a strong start to the season in Australia, qualifying on the front row and being Lewis Hamilton’s main challenger for much of the race before Sebastian Vettel’s pitstop strategy – made effective by a virtual safety car period – helped him jump from third to first.
Scarborough believes that Ferrari’s layout at the front of its car explains why Raikkonen’s campaign started so encouragingly in Australia.
"Ferrari, compared to any other front team, have the most conservative front suspension," said Scarborough in the latest episode of the Motorsport Show.
"Other people are playing around with the angles of the suspension with these upper arms, lifting them up for aero reasons, and for geometry reasons.
"Ferrari keep that and that gives them quite a good front end.
"And for somewhere like Melbourne that was really helping, and for a driver like Kimi Raikkonen that is really important as well, that they have that confidence in the front end.
"There are lots of factors when you make these decisions and certainly it seems to work for Ferrari."
Scarborough also suggested the suspension layout could give the team an advantage over rivals who have gone for more complicated designs.
"It is one of the trump cards for Ferrari and you wonder how that will start to play out with tyres as we go to different sorts of tracks, different temperatures and different compounds," he added.
In the same analysis, Anthony Rowlinson, Editor-in-Chief of F1 Racing, also examines the back end of the car.
"It’s interesting, I think, in the context of what Ferrari haven’t done at the front, that Sebastian Vettel to date has not found the grip he wants for the rear," said Rowlinson.
Australian Grand Prix – Kimi comments about the race
A win with two cars on the podium is a very good start of the season for the team. Maybe I have been a bit unlucky today, but at least the luck came to our team. Third place it’s not exactly the result we wanted, but it’s only the first race and the big picture is not too bad. So I happily take the third place. Overall I was pretty happy with my car today, the speed was there all day. It’s nice to have a good feeling. For sure there are things to improve, but if the feeling stays like this we’ll have all the tools to fight. And this is the most important thing. This is a quite special track in many ways, so let’s see what happens in the next race. Bahrain it’s not very straightforward either; from year to year we have seen that the hot conditions don’t give a 100 percent true picture. We need to be patient and do our best wherever we go.
Q: Kimi, my man. How was it? Sixteen times this man has raced in front of you guys. He’s an absolute legend. Up here on the podium for the first time since he won in 2013. Kimi, how was your race?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it was OK. We didn’t have the most luck but what can you do. Luckily it was Seb that got the luck and it was our team at least. I think I had decent speed all day long and just difficult to pass. I got a good go in the second corner and then just tried to follow and see if we could do something in a pit stop. Obviously with the safety car it’s pure luck. We could hold onto third place. Got some pressure in the end, from the Red Bull with little bit more fresh tyres, but I’ll take it the third place. I think I’ve been happy with the car and it’s nice to go onto the next races.
Q: (Yianni Mavromoustakos – Talkingtorque.com.au) Firstly congratulations to Seb, now for all three drivers, how did you find the Halo in race conditions.
KR: No different than in testing or at any other point. I think it definitely doesn’t disturb at all. I think it was helpful here because the sun, when it’s coming in the right height, it’s blocking the sun in the eyes. So, I think it was only beneficial here, and it’s safer. Maybe people don’t like how it looks but y’know it might make a difference for us one day and it’s a good thing to have.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, it’s your best start to the season for five years. P3, it is more satisfaction or a disappointment?
KR: Obviously, you want more, always, and you want to win. I think we had decent speed all weekend and we were pretty OK in the early part of the race and then obviously, it’s just pure luck sometimes that goes your way or against you. What happened today, at least it was our team. Not ideal for me but it’s a decent start and it’s a long year so the feeling has been OK this weekend. We go for the next race and I’d rather take a third place than no points, so yeah, we always want more but I’ll take it and we go.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Two questions for Kimi: first of all, you were quicker than Sebastian in qualifying and in the first part of the race with the ultrasoft tyres so is that satisfactory and encouraging for future races? And second, with the harder tyre, you didn’t seem to be able to hold on to them. Was the balance the difference?
KR: I think I had a chance to fight for the first place in the beginning but I was very happy with the car all weekend. Obviously there are things that we have to improve, we know that, but it wasn’t too bad and in the end of all the guys I had the older tyres so obviously with Ricciardo my aim was just to keep him behind because I followed throughout the first part of the race but it’s very difficult to overtake so it wasn’t really there. The biggest thing was to try to get in front of Lewis. I was happy to take the third place, not ideal but I was pretty happy with everything, not much to complain about but obviously the position could be a bit better.
Q: (Mikko Hyytia – Iltalehti) Kimi, how surprised were you by Sebastian’s tactics because on the radio it sounded like you were pretty surprised?
KR: Not really. The only thing I was surprised because we were talking on the radio that they didn’t let me know what he was doing. Obviously we talked before the race and there were hundreds of options what we can do and that was his best option and no threat from behind. He would obviously take a chance because he had nothing else to lose at that point, safe in third place so it would work out well. I wasn’t really surprised what they did. I was surprised that we didn’t – at one point – know exactly.
Australian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel jumps Lewis Hamilton to win
Sebastian Vettel took advantage of a mid-race safety car to steal victory from Lewis Hamilton in the 2018 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Vettel was third in the opening stint but ran longer than his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and early leader Hamilton and benefited hugely from a caution period just before he was due to pit.
Vettel managed Hamilton’s subsequent recovery attempt with ease, aided by his fellow four-time champion running off-track in pursuit, to win by 5.9s as Raikkonen completed a double Ferrari podium in third.
Hamilton kept the lead at the start and rebuffed an attack from Raikkonen at Turn 3 before settling into a comfortable lead that stood at more than three seconds, as Vettel kept a watching brief in the second Ferrari.
Kevin Magnussen’s move around the outside of Turn 1 to jump Max Verstappen gave the front three chance to break clear, and the race was descending into a procession as the first stint developed.
Verstappen’s Red Bull looked erratic behind the Haas and he complained of overheating rears, which manifested itself in dramatic fashion with a spin at Turn 1 that dropped Verstappen to eighth.
The only other movement before the pitstops was Carlos Sainz Jr running wide at Turn 9 in his Renault and allowing Fernando Alonso’s McLaren into ninth, but the race was turned on its head by the two Haas pitstops.
Magnussen pulled up at Turn 3 after his left rear wheel was not correctly fitted, and team-mate Romain Grosjean suffered a similar fate just a lap later when a problem on his front left led to the Frenchman pulling over on the left-hand side on the exit of Turn 1 immediately.
That triggered a virtual safety car, which was a blessing to Ferrari as it had used its two-against-one advantage over Mercedes to good effect, bringing in Raikkonen early so Hamilton had to stop one lap later to protect against the Ferrari’s fresh-tyre advantage.
Vettel stayed out several laps longer and, with the virtual safety car deployed, he was able to pit while the rest circulated slowly and emerge just ahead of Hamilton, turning a nine-second deficit into the race lead.
A real safety car soon replaced its virtual equivalent and the race remained neutralised until lap 32, giving Hamilton 26 laps to overhaul Vettel.
Hamilton stayed around a second behind Vettel for a lot of that time, then started a serious push with a dozen laps remaining but locked up at the Turn 9 right-hander and skated over the grass.
That dropped him back to almost three seconds behind and though he briefly got back within DRS range with five laps to go he complained of overheating rears and slipped back again.
Raikkonen kept a charging Daniel Ricciardo at bay to finish third, while Alonso – the other big winner from the mid-race safety car – claimed fifth despite immense pressure from Verstappen.
Nico Hulkenberg had a quiet run to seventh place for Renault, chasing Alonso and Verstappen late on.
Valtteri Bottas’s unspectacular recovery from 15th was boosted by the safety car and he took eighth from another beneficiary, Stoffel Vandoorne, with a nice move at Turn 3 on the restart. He then closed on Hulkenberg but was unable to pass and ended up back under pressure from Vandoorne.
The final point of the season opener went to Carlos Sainz Jr in the second Renault, who held off Sergio Perez’s Force India despite claiming he was suffering from nausea in the final third of the race.
As well as the race-changing Haas failures, three other teams lost a car over the course of the opening grand prix.
Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin was the first retirement of the season after suffering a brake problem on lap six, while Marcus Ericsson brought his power steering-less Sauber into the pits on lap 14 and Pierre Gasly failed to finish after a Honda engine problem in his Toro Rosso.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||58||7.069s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||58||28.945s|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||58||46.817s|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||58||1m00.278s|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||57||1 Lap|
|–||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||24||Wheel nut|
|–||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||22||Wheel nut|
|–||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||13||Power Unit|
Kimi and Seb felt handling improved during Qualifying
Melbourne – A solid team effort for the first qualifying of the season resulted in Kimi and Seb taking second and third slots on the grid for tomorrow’s race, just one hundredth of a second apart. The weather stayed dry throughout the three sessions, allowing the two SF71Hs to put the softest Pirelli compounds to good use. Rain is not expected for the race either, although Melbourne is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to weather conditions…
“Today” said Kimi “we did not really know what to expect from this first qualifying, it was a bit of an unknown. But then I was pretty happy with the car, the feeling was ok. The gap to our rivals is probably bigger than we wanted, but it was not a very straightforward day either. This is a very special circuit in many ways, if compared to “normal” tracks, and these are the early stages of the season. I think we have to wait for the next few races to have a clear picture and understand where the teams are exactly. For sure there are things to improve to go faster; I know there are areas where I could improve on my lap times. This is what we have got today, a decent result in quite tricky conditions. Tomorrow we’ll put our maximum effort into the race”.
Q: Phenomenal job. Congratulations. Great job today Kimi, a phenomenal lap from you. Talk about your lap, talk about your pace today, a great job for Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it was a pretty decent job. But obviously the lap time difference is still pretty big but it wasn’t a very straightforward session, because of the weather this morning and the disturbance in the last qualifying but we have to be happy about where we are starting but there is still an awful lot of work to be done to improve things, but not too bad.
Q: Kimi, great performance, it looked pretty close in Q2, first runs of Q3 as well, Lewis used the word ‘surprised’ to talk about the performance of Ferrari there, were you surprised them when he pulled out that lap?
KR: We didn’t really know what to expect, it’s the first qualifying so everybody’s been a bit unsure of where you are against the others and obviously today was like this. If you purely look at time differences it’s bigger than for sure we want but I think it wasn’t very straightforward, the whole day with conditions and everything. We have to see in the next ones but I think everything was more or less OK. One mistake in Q2, lost one run and obviously then we used, like a half a lap used tyres in the first try but yeah, I think feeling-wise, not too bad. For sure things could be better here and there, we try to make a good job tomorrow and keep working and see what we can do.
Kimi, any thoughts?
KR: No, free to do what they want.
Did you think about it?
KR: For sure. There are a lot of things that we think about and we try to chose the best that we think is going to work for us but obviously, there’s a lot of options that you can do. To be honest, the end result, if you purely take the speed, might not be an awful lot different.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, it’s the second time you’re on the front row here and the last time you won it. Is a front row position giving you a better chance in the race because it’s so difficult to overtake?
KR: I don’t think it’s going to change an awful lot, honestly. You want to be as far forward as you can but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Whatever has happened in the past doesn’t make any difference tomorrow. We will try to make a good race out of it and see where we end up. Obviously it’s a bit unknown as it’s the first race so we do our own stuff and hopefully get a good result out of it.
Australian Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton pole, Bottas crashes
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the 2018 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, while Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas crashed out of qualifying.
Hamilton looked under pressure after the first Q3 runs, but put in a stunning final lap to take pole position by 0.664 seconds from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Although Sebastian Vettel had been just 0.034s behind Hamilton following the initial Q3 laps, he couldn’t find enough time on his final run to keep his team-mate at bay or pressure the Mercedes driver. Vettel suggested he had pushed too hard in Turn 13 on his last lap as he had to settle for third.
Bottas was consigned to 10th after crashing at Turn 2 on his first flying lap in Q3.
The Mercedes driver hit the inside kerb at Turn 1, which appeared to push him deep mid-corner and meant he skimmed the damp grass with his left-rear wheel.
He attempted to hold it through the second part of the right/left, but lost the rear and backed into the wall – coming to rest in the middle of the track.
Max Verstappen, who had been just over half-a-tenth off Hamilton after the first Q3 runs, ended up fourth after losing the rear through the Turn 13 right-hander. Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was next up but has a three-place grid penalty for his Friday red flag infringement.
While ultrasofts were the tyres of choice for the rest of the field throughout qualifying, the two Red Bull drivers will start on the supersofts having used them to set their Q2 times.
Haas pairing Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean made good on the team’s promising testing and practice pace with sixth and seventh fastest, albeit two seconds off the pace.
Thanks to Ricciardo’s penalty and Bottas’s crash, Haas is therefore set to start with a third-row lockout.
Renault pairing Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr were eighth and ninth, with the German shading his team-mate by just under half a tenth.
Fernando Alonso was eliminated in Q2 after failing to improve on his second run, having a moment at Turn 3 and ending up three tenths slower than his earlier attempt.
That was enough to put him 11th ahead of McLaren-Renault team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.
Sergio Perez admitted Force India "has work to do" after ending up 13th, one place ahead of Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Stroll, like Alonso, overdid it into Turn 3 but then ran through the gravel, meaning he was unable to improve on his first-run pace.
Esteban Ocon completed a difficult day for Force India, aborting his first run in Q2 and then lapping just over half a second slower than Stroll to end up 15th.
Toro Rosso-Honda’s Brendon Hartley was quickest of the five drivers eliminated in the first segment of qualifying, missing out on a place in Q2 by just 29 thousandths of a second to Ocon.
The two Sauber drivers both completed three runs, with Marcus Ericsson ending up 17th fastest and less than a tenth ahead of rookie team-mate Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc complained of an error at the Turn 4 left-hander that cost him a shot at advancing to Q2.
Williams debutant Sergey Sirotkin was outside the dropzone after the first Q1 runs in 15th place, but was shuffled down to 19th by the end of the session despite improving by just over three tenths on his second run.
That put him ahead only of the second Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, whose final attempt was ruined by locking up and running off track and through the gravel at the Turn 3 right-hander.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m21.879s||0.715s|
|8||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m22.152s||0.988s|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m24.005s||–|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m24.786s||–|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m24.532s||–|
|20||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m25.295s||–|
Australian Grand Prix practice: Vettel leads Ferrari one-two
Sebastian Vettel timed his fastest lap perfectly on a drying track in Melbourne to lead a Ferrari one-two in final practice for the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver was one of a handful to gamble on the ultrasoft tyre in the dying seconds of the hour-long session, which had for the most part been limited to running on intermediates thanks to morning storms over Melbourne.
It was a gamble that played off, Vettel going fastest at the flag with a 1m26.067s that left him more than two seconds clear of the rest of the field.
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson were second and third quickest, having also run the ultrasoft right at the end of the session, while Max Verstappen was the best of those to have not sampled a slick down in fourth.
Wet conditions thanks to the morning thunderstorms meant the first 10 minutes was mostly exploratory running on the full wets, Fernando Alonso the first to brave the intermediates seven minutes in.
Even then nobody bothered to set a time until the 18-minute mark, when Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg went top by default with a 1m40.863s on the intermediates despite a massive moment on the way out of Turn 10.
Hulkenberg made progress on his next two laps, dipping into the 1m38s, before Verstappen took over at the top with a 1m37.419s on his first flyer.
He made swift work of his own benchmark too, a 1m35.548s on the same run leaving him the best part of two seconds clear of the field.
Right before the midway point of the session Daniel Ricciardo closed the gap to his team-mate to 0.4s, at which point conditions were judged good enough to enable DRS.
Five minutes later times began to tumble, Ricciardo going fastest with a 1m35.265s before being topped by Alonso’s 1m34.298s.
The two Mercedes drivers then drifted to the top, Valtteri Bottas taking over first place with a 1m34.174s as Lewis Hamilton slotted in behind, 0.051s off his team-mate.
Hamilton was short on running up to that point having been delayed by an issue when trying to make his first run 25 minutes in. "I can’t pull away," he told the team over the radio and had to await a steering wheel change before he could exit the garage 10 minutes later.
Bottas’s time stood until the final two minutes, when the timesheet came alive with a mix of drivers switching to ultrasofts and others making the most of the near-dry conditions on intermediates.
First it was Carlos Sainz Jr that went quickest on a set of intermediates, before Verstappen, also on the inters, jumped him by 1.5s with a 1m31.680s.
Vettel, who had been the very first to roll out of pitlane on slicks, then went more than five seconds clear of everyone with his 1m26.067s, the margin shrinking back to 2.4s when Raikkonen and Ericsson completed their ultrasoft laps at the flag.
Ricciardo made a late gain on the intermediate to slot into sixth behind Verstappen and Sainz, while Bottas and Hamilton were bumped down to seventh and eighth respectively.
Stoffel Vandoorne and Alonso rounded out the top 10, McLaren having flirted with the idea of a slick tyre but ultimately opted against a late switch.
Elsewhere in the field, Lance Stroll’s running was limited by a gearbox repair that meant he didn’t get on-track until there was just 16 minutes to go. The Canadian wound up 14th, three-tenths behind rookie team-mate Sergey Sirotkin.
The Force Indias effectively did no running at all, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez left anchored to the bottom of the timesheet having only come out for installation laps at the start.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m31.680s||5.613s||8|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m34.043s||7.976s||14|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m34.990s||8.923s||16|
|12||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m35.438s||9.371s||16|
|19||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||1|
|20||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||–||–||1|
Kimi, Seb believe there’s much potential to be explored
Melbourne – 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”.
Australian Grand Prix: Hamilton leads Verstappen in practice
Lewis Hamilton edged out Max Verstappen to complete a clean sweep of Friday’s practice sessions for the 2018 Formula 1 season’s curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix.
Hamilton did not improve on his first-practice benchmark significantly but a 1m23.931s was good enough to keep Mercedes ahead of Red Bull around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.
The teams were more lethargic hitting the track in second practice, with Kevin Magnussen the first to venture out four minutes in, but flying laps kicked in almost immediately afterwards.
Verstappen fired the first real statement of intent after 10 minutes with a 1m25.063s on soft tyres, which Valtteri Bottas beat by three tenths of a second in his soft-shod Mercedes.
Hamilton usurped top spot soon after on a 1m24.569s and went quicker on his second run on a set of supersofts to get down to a 1m24.385s.
Verstappen then lapped only 0.016 seconds slower, still on softs, while it took a set of ultrasoft tyres for Kimi Raikkonen to vault Ferrari ahead of both on a 1m24.214s after 35 minutes of running.
Hamilton moved back in front within a matter of seconds as he switched to the softest-compound Pirellis and broke the 1m24s barrier with a 1m23.931s.
Bottas then briefly made it a Mercedes one-two, but Red Bull then gave Verstappen a set of ultrasofts and he stole into the 0.228s gap between the W09s.
Raikkonen was shuffled back to fourth, 0.283s off the pace and a couple of tenths clear of Sebastian Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo was poised to emphasise Red Bull’s position as Mercedes’ closest challenger until a red flag halfway through the session ruined a hot lap.
Ricciardo was just 0.110s slower than Verstappen after the first two sectors before loose wire on the start-finish straight triggered a brief stoppage.
The session resumed swiftly but by this point the frontrunners had completed their qualifying simulations, which meant attention turned to long runs and there were no more changes at the top.
Ricciardo’s aborted flying lap allowed Romain Grosjean to cap a very impressive opening day of the season for the Haas team with sixth place.
Haas was one of the understated stars of pre-season testing and Grosjean’s 1m24.648s, just 0.717s slower than Hamilton, put the American team comfortably clear of its midfield rivals.
McLaren was next in the best-of-the-rest scrap, with Fernando Alonso eighth-fastest ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen and second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.
Haas’s half-second advantage over the midfield was at odds with an otherwise ultra-close fight contested by McLaren, Renault, Force India, Williams and Toro Rosso.
Less than a second covered from Alonso in eighth to Sergey Sirotkin in 18th, while Sauber ended the day adrift at the foot of the times.
Marcus Ericsson pipped Formula 2 champion and F1 debutant Charles Leclerc by just 0.001s, but both drivers lapped 0.8s slower than the nearest cars ahead.
Williams’s Lance Stroll, who had been 14th fastest, had to pull over on-track after the end of session practice starts with concerns about his car overheating.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m24.058s||0.127s||34|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m24.721s||0.790s||28|
|12||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.413s||1.482s||30|
|15||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.888s||1.957s||33|
|16||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m25.925s||1.994s||41|
|17||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m25.945s||2.014s||39|
Formula 1: Hamilton fastest in Australian Grand Prix first practice
Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton kicked off the 2018 Formula 1 season by setting the fastest time in opening practice for the Australian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes F1 driver headed team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than half a second, as Red Bull edged Ferrari to be best-of-the rest.
Sebastian Vettel was the first car to hit the Melbourne track as he led the initial burst of installation runs, but it took 20 minutes for anyone to set a time.
The first flying lap came from Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin, but his 1m32.057s did not stand as the benchmark for long.
Within five minutes the big teams began to make their mark, with Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas briefly going quickest before the Red Bulls hit the front.
Max Verstappen twice grabbed top spot from team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – interrupted by Hamilton’s first spell atop the times – and Verstappen was the first driver to dip below the 1m25s mark, on a 1m24.959s.
Hamilton stamped his authority on the session not long after the half-hour mark, first lapping 0.022s quicker than Verstappen and then improving to 1m24.531s.
After a mid-session lull in activity, Bottas emerged on a new set of ultrasofts and lapped 0.046s slower than Hamilton, but the four-time champion hit back with a 1m24.026s to go half a second clear.
Bottas could not get any closer to Hamilton over the rest of the session, and although Verstappen improved his time after switching to supersofts, third and 0.745s off the pace was the best Red Bull could manage.
Ferrari split the two Red Bulls and occupied fourth and fifth place, with Raikkonen using soft tyres to lap a tenth quicker than Vettel, who made a mistake on his first flying lap on supersofts but improved on his second.
Ricciardo ended the session sixth-fastest, a quarter of a second behind Verstappen but comfortably clear of an ultra-tight midfield headed by Romain Grosjean.
Haas looked strong in pre-season testing and Grosjean continued that form in Australia, as a second covered the Frenchman in seventh to Sergio Perez’s Force India in 16th.
Fernando Alonso ended up slightly slower than Grosjean after McLaren recovered from a difficult start to FP1 to end up with both cars in the top 10.
Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne spent most of the first hour in the garage. Alonso suffered an exhaust problem, while Vandoorne was largely absent save for a run that featured a "driveability" issue.
When Alonso emerged for proper running in the final half hour he made quick progress up the order and eventually settled into eighth with a 1m25.896s best set on supersofts, but he would have been faster without a scruffy final sector.
Vandoorne used soft tyres to rise to 10th, half a second behind Alonso, as Carlos Sainz Jr’s supersoft-shod Renault split the MCL33s.
Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso-Honda was 11th quickest, only fractionally slower than Vandoorne’s McLaren-Renault.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m24.771s||0.745s||26|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.063s||1.037s||25|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m26.494s||2.468s||25|
|14||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.605s||2.579s||30|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.767s||2.741s||26|
|18||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m27.745s||3.719s||16|