Friday was '99 per cent perfect' for Hamilton

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It's no wonder Lewis Hamilton was looking so happy after the first day of Formula 1 practice in 2017.

The Mercedes driver was half a second faster than anyone else on Friday in Melbourne as he kicked off his campaign for a fourth world championship.

Ferrari and Red Bull were expected to be much closer to Mercedes with the new tyre and downforce regulations. But going by his pace in FP1 and FP2 ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton has things well in hand.

"I'm super happy to be back in the car - particularly after a first day like that," said the 32-year-old.

"It was 99 per cent perfect."

Hamilton denied that the team had been 'sandbagging' in pre-season testing to make their rivals look better.

"After struggling with some issues in Barcelona, we didn't know if we'd have the same thing here," he insisted. "Coming into today, we really didn't know where we'd be.

"What's really encouraging is that we've arrived at the track just a week later and the car is exactly where it should be.

"It's feeling great out there and the guys have done a fantastic job," he continued. "We've shown good form so far on both the long and short runs and we got every lap done that we wanted to."

Hamilton said he was still worried about the threat posed by Ferrari, who improved considerably in the second session.

"We knew from FP1 that the Ferrari's weren't at their maximum. Of course, in FP2 all of a sudden they were quick. We'll see tomorrow how it really stands."

GALLERY: all the pics from Friday's action

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