Lewis Hamilton says he is delighted to be back competing again as he kicked off his quest for a fourth Formula 1 World Championship title with a clean sweep at the top of the timesheets in both free practice sessions.

The Briton was quickest for Mercedes in the damp-to-dry FP1 session and again in the considerably wetter FP2, but while he doesn't expect it to have much of a bearing on tomorrow and Sunday when the forecast is expected to be less temperamental, he was nonetheless pleased to be back behind the wheel once more.

"I can't tell you how exciting it was. The winter test is cool to drive the car, but when they tell you that you are going to be driving 180 laps you are thinking 'Oh my god, this is going to be a long day!' The first 20 laps is cool, but after that you are into autopilot. I was in the garage now and chilling just waiting, but as soon as I knew I was going to go I put my helmet on and was excited to get going.

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"I love this part of the weekend when you get out on the track and I guess I don't always show that, and sometimes people misinterpret things I might say or the energy I might project, but I have such excitement when I'm in there and I go out and practice."

"It doesn't really mean anything today. I definitely feel that even though there was such short running, I got what I needed and as much as I could. I was really happy and I didn't make any mistakes, so I was really happy."

Though team-mate and main rival Nico Rosberg put his car in the wall in FP2, Hamilton says qualifying still remains something on a lottery.

"It's an unknown, so tomorrow is going to be exciting. But today I've had a blast! I've only done a few laps, but I love driving this track and it's really is the best track to start the season."