Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Andrew Brownbill

Hamilton shows rivals why he is favourite

MOTORSPORT: Lewis Hamilton has laid down a marker for the Formula 1 season, lapping more than half a second quicker than his nearest challenger in the second practice of the day for the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton tore around the Albert Park track to set the fastest time, with German rival Sebastian Vettel, of Ferrari, the next quickest in Melbourne.

Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest, one hundredth of a second behind the Ferrari, while Kimi Raikkonen was the only other driver to get within a second of the Briton in the other Ferrari.

Home favourite Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, just ahead of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who was one of several drivers to survive an off-track moment.

Renault's Jolyon Palmer was less lucky, losing the rear of his Renault at the final corner in the early stages and bringing out the red flags as his severely damaged car was removed.

In practice one, the new generation of "faster" cars lived up to the hype.

Hamilton clocked a fastest lap of 1min 24.220ssec, some five seconds quicker than his best in the same session last year. The Brit headed a Mercedes one-two with Bottas half a second adrift with Australia's Ricciardo third quickest, less than one tenth off Bottas.

Significantly, Ricciardo's time was set on Pirelli's red "Supersoft" tyres while both Hamilton and Bottas clocked their laps on the grippier "Ultrasoft" compound.

Verstappen was next in fourth despite struggling with a gearbox problem early in the 90-minute session, with the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel making up the top six.

Both of the scarlet machines spent most of the session in the garage.

News Corp Australia

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