Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel sounded an early alarm bell for Ferrari at Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix, saying he was lacking confidence in his auto after a disappointing run in Friday practice.
The Australian posted a total of 47 laps over Friday's two practice sessions around the Albert Park street circuit, with his best time coming in the afternoon session, where a lap time of 1:23.664 was enough to secure eighth place, just 0.070s behind team-mate Nico Hülkenberg's best time.
After showing blistering speed at testing, Ferrari's four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel could only manage fifth fastest in the second practice session with his new teammate Charles Leclerc ninth.
"The rumours are they found 15 kilowatts over the winter - that's potentially half the deficit to Mercedes and Ferrari". Officials were expecting slightly warmer weather for the second practice session later Friday, and for qualifying on Saturday ahead of Sunday's race.
The Australian Formula One Grand Prix circus kicks the year off in Melbourne this weekend and I am sure most Australian's will be backing our own Daniel Ricciardo to take the chequered flag in front of a home crowd.
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"But we said that we have work to do and we weren't talking BS". It is not a racing environment, you never know what the others will bring. "There's plenty of things we can improve on, which is a positive, but it's absolutely not a bad start at all". Or have we all been hoodwinked by pre-season testing (again)? But Hamilton roared back to sweep 11 of the remaining 19 Grand Prix and the 31-year-old is desperate to turn the tables.
"And come qualifying you get a better picture, and usually, over the first few races is when you really start to get an idea of where everyone stands".
Sebastian Vettel, who has won in Melbourne for the past two years, could only manage fifth, almost a second adrift of arch-rival Hamilton, while Ferrari partner Charles Leclerc struggled to ninth, straddling the kerb and spinning as he pushed hard late in the day.
He spun into the grass at one stage after complaining of a reliability problem with his Ferrari.
Williams driver Robert Kubica was slowest in the 20-strong field in the second session in his first F1 event in eight years after a horror world rally championship crash.