Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off last season and was joined by teammate Valtteri Bottas as the Mercedes drivers posted the top times in practice Friday at the Australian Grand Prix.

After pipping Vettel with a lap of one minute 23.599 seconds in the first practice, Hamilton shaved nearly a second off that in FP2, his quickest lap clocked at 1:22.600.

However, he also said, "I hope to enjoy the weekend and that everything will run smoothly without any big issues so I can concentrate on my driving and discover a new Formula 1".

"The auto feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track".

"Of course, I'm always anxious and we had a laugh past year because I couldn't get hold of him or my chief strategist or one of the race engineers because they were racing motorbikes", he said.

Vettel was not far off the pace of the Red Bulls in the second session but he slid through the grass and complained of handling problems on the team radio. And don't forget there's also the new aero rules, which should result in more overtaking.

Much had been made of his insistence after pre-season testing in Barcelona that Ferrari were much faster, but he quickly put that fallacy to bed as he angles for an 84th pole position. "The short run at the end was okay, the long runs not so good, so still have some things to learn about the auto". "Probably it was a tricky day for everyone", he said.

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The closure of the sacred compound also drew censure from Jordan, the custodian of Muslim holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem . It includes the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and is the holiest site in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam.

Ferrari's new SF90 vehicle has been widely regarded as the early benchmark of the 2019 F1 field, and Hamilton suggested in Barcelona that Mercedes could be as much as half a second adrift. I have not got fat.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says it is unrealistic to expect Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari this season.

Alfa Romeo, formerly Sauber, named Kimi Raikkonen to partner Antonio Giovinazzi in 2019 and the Swiss team are hopeful of being prominent in what will be an enthralling midfield battle.

Hamilton was 0.038 faster than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who is aiming for a third consecutive victory at the Australian GP.

In the second session Ricciardo gave his rabid fans something to smile about but still could not reel in Hulkenberg, who was seventh quickest.

The session was suspended for four minutes after Alexander Albon spun at Turn 2 and lost the forward wing on his Toro Rosso. In a sport where times are measured to the thousandth of a second, the sight of Williams struggling to get within two seconds of their nearest rival is a depressing scene for the once proud outfit.

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