Mercedes were hoping to get back in the championship race with the Australian Grand Prix. However, the Silver Arrows had yet another disappointing practice session on Friday. Once again, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton appeared to be off the pace during the FP1 & FP2. Unfortunately, Lewis Hamilton finished in the 13th position during the second practice ahead of the Grand Prix in Melbourne’s Albert Park.
Unfortunately, Mercedes’ George Russell could not finish in the top 10 either. Hamilton’s teammate Russell finished in the eleventh spot and was 1.2 seconds behind Ferrari’s Leclerc, who finished in the 1st position. After the controversial situation in Saudi Arabia, Mercedes hoped to come back stronger. However, their world-class drivers still find it hard to handle the new W13, designed under the newest F1 regulations. Formula One is finally returning to Melbourne for the first time since 2020, when Australian Grand Prix was canceled due to the pandemic.
After finishing 10th in Jeddah, the seven-time world champ demanded more power and greater grip for his car. However, Mercedes landed in Australia without any major upgrades in their car as they continue to fight with the new regulations underway.
Lewis Hamilton was once again seen off the pace as he struggled to get his car going. The 37-year-old finished 1.5 seconds behind Ferrari’s Leclerc, who took the top spot. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was 0.245 seconds behind Leclerc and finished in the second spot, followed by Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished third during the second practice run. Unfortunately, none of the Mercedes’ two top-tier drivers could finish in the top ten. Moreover, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who debuted 21 years ago in Albert Park, finished in the fourth position ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel Returned After Missing Out In Bahrain & Jeddah
Sebastian Vettel was sidelined from the first two Grand Prix races in Bahrain and Jeddah after being tested positive for COVID-19. The four-time world champion returned to the tracks during the practice session on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, the German racing driver’s first outing after a while ended prematurely when due to an unexpected engine failure. Vettel had to stop his vehicle after smoke began to come up from his Aston Martin. Sebastian had to ride on a moped back to his pit as he waved at the crowds. The FIA is currently investigating the incident.
Vettel could not return to the track after the incident for the rest of the session after his team failed to change the faulty unit in time. There was disappointment in the Aston Martin camp as Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll finished at the 14th spot. Williams and Aston Martin are yet to score a point in the championship race. Meanwhile, McLaren’s Lando Norris finished eighth, while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo finished tenth.
Major Changes At The Albert Park Arena Post 2019
The last Australian Grand Prix happened back in 2019. Lewis Hamilton finished in the second position behind his former teammate Valterri Bottas. However, things are about to change as the track has undergone some major modifications, to make the race more eventful. The Albert Park track has been resurfaced and widened at Turns 1, 6, and the penultimate corner.
Further, the chicane at Turns 9 and 10 have been removed. The removal will provide the drivers with a high-speed drag down to Turn 11, resulting in more overtaking opportunities. Hence, the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday is expected to be a blast as we might see a battle between Ferrari and Red Bull. However, it will be interesting to note if Mercedes come back stronger during a crucial race on Sunday.