Hamilton 'starts on the right foot' on Friday in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 on a scooter in the paddock.
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton said that this weekend's Australian Grand Prix was like stepping into the unknown - but added that it was going well so far.

The Mercedes driver was fastest in both of Friday's two 90-minute practice sessions. He set a time of 1:24.026s in the morning, which he improved to 1:23.931s after lunch.

His advantage in FP1 over team mate Valtteri Bottas was more than half a second. But Max Verstappen narrowed the gap to Hamilton to just 0.127s in the afternoon.

"We started on the right foot today," Hamilton stated after the end of the day's track action. "We got through everything we needed.

"It closed up a little bit in FP2 in terms of the gap between us all, but that's exciting," he added. "It's more challenging for me to try and eke out a little more from the car."

Hamilton said that no one had any real idea where they stood at the start of a new season until the moment the new cars finally hit the track.

"Coming to the first race, you really have no idea what it's going to be like," he commented. "You don't how you're going to feel physically, you don't know how the tyres are going to react to the circuit."

Tyres had been an issue for Mercedes in pre-season testing. But Hamilton said that he hadn't experienced any of the problems reported earlier this month.

"The tyres definitely didn't seem to have the same issue that we had in Barcelona where they were blistering," he confirmed. "So it felt a lot more normal.

"Obviously the car is quicker here than it was last year," he noted. "It feels better everywhere. Turns 11 and 12 are crazy - we're not even braking into that corner, it's insane!"

Hamilton added that Albert Park was "a really beautiful place to be and work", especially in the gorgeous late summer conditions on Friday. However Saturday is expecting to be all change, with rain forecast for final practice and qualifying.

"It's going to rain tomorrow and on Sunday as far as I'm aware," Hamilton said, sounding distinctly unhappy at the prospect. "I've not driven in the rain yet on these tyres, so that'll be interesting."

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