Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton feels there is more to come from Mercedes after setting the pace during Friday practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. 

Hamilton led the way in both practice sessions on Friday as F1 competitive action returned in Melbourne, with the Briton edging out the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in FP1 before Mercedes pulled eight tenths clear in FP2. 

“I have a positive buzz from driving the car today, this is what I love doing,” Hamilton explained. 

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“The car feels like it’s in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track. We got through our programme really well, there were no issues on track. 

“There’s plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start. What we have to do now is really study and analyse everything, as we always do on a Friday night. 

“But the fact is we’ve got two cars that continue to go around, none of us made a mistake and we kept the cars in one piece - that counts for a lot.”

The reigning world champions had struggled with balance issues during pre-season testing and introduced a heavily updated aerodynamic package to combat the issue in the second week of running. 

Both drivers reported instant improvements with the revised aero package in Barcelona and Valtteri Bottas - who ended up just 0.048s behind Hamilton in the afternoon - felt Mercedes had successfully optimised the upgrade so far in Melbourne. 

"The car felt better than it did in testing,” Bottas added. “We didn’t bring a lot of new parts to the car, but we were able to optimise the package that we have. 

“It was a solid day for the first day back in the office, but the times are not important on a Friday. We haven’t seen the full performance from any of the other teams. 

“We have an idea of how much we can improve for qualifying, but we have no idea how much performance the other teams can still bring. 

“It will be interesting to see what the first competitive session holds tomorrow.”

Speaking after the opening session, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sky Sports F1: “The car is coming together. We learned a lot in the second week of testing and also in the first. 

“We have no idea of the performance levels, nobody has really put their pants down ahead of qualifying tomorrow, but a good start.”

 

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