Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo hopes to end his Australia curse

Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton clocks up the mileage F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo hopes to end his Australia curse
Shannon Reynolds | 24 March, 2018, 10:32

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain struggles to get our of his vehicle at the end of the first practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Friday, March 23, 2018.

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) was fifth fastest but will start from eighth in the Formula One season opener after copping a three place grid penalty in Friday's second practice.

And don't count out Red Bull.

Hamilton, however, was guarded about the team's opening weekend prospects, believing Red Bull could be as much a threat to the "Silver Arrows" as Ferrari.

Hamilton was quickest in each of the two practice sessions on Friday, with a comfortable advantage in FP1 being cut to less than 0.2s over Max Verstappen in the second session.

"It was a positive start to the weekend so happy with that", said Verstappen.

The first stop on the 2018 Formula One world tour is Melbourne, with action taking place from Friday right through until Sunday.

The Finn's Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel was third fastest.

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"Obviously, hard to read too much into times, but you start to get a bit of an idea and you can see Mercedes really taking off where they left off (last year)", Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

"I've got to discover whether I've lost some performance or they've gained, but I enjoyed driving".

However Ferrari is confident of mounting a strong challenge, while Red Bull is the outfit expected to get nearest to the two dominating teams.

The halo was introduced to F1 this season after years of research and development to protect drivers from flying debris and crashes following the fatal accident of Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

Asked if that means he could be in the mix for pole position, Vettel replied: "I don't know".

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"The most important thing was to go through our programme and we did that, and I'm excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow". Esteban Ocon was 15th in the second Force India ahead of the Toro Rossos and Saubers. We lost a little bit of track time in the first 45 minutes of FP1 but had a very good run after that and got some good learning from the auto, which was the most important thing after winter testing. "I really hope to make a bigger step than the others". Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Renault 1:25.390, 12.

Not only was Verstappen quick on the ultra-soft tyre but he also impressed on the soft compound where he managed to get within 0.016s of Hamilton's best super-soft lap.

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