Melbourne: Lewis Hamilton made a mockery of his claim that Ferrari would be half-a-second quicker at the Australian Grand Prix by easily clocking the fastest times in the season’s opening practice runs on Friday.
The Briton led a Mercedes one-two in the second session as he powered round Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit under clear skies with a best of one minute 22.600 seconds.
It bettered his pace-setting 1:23.599 in the opening practice as he kick-started his bid for a sixth world title.
Valtteri Bottas was second (1:22.648) with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third (1:23.400), marginally ahead of impressive new teammate Pierre Gasly, who was promoted this year from Toro Rosso.
Sebastian Vettel could only manage fifth, nearly a second adrift of arch-rival Hamilton, while Ferrari partner Charles Leclerc struggled to ninth, straddling the kerb and spinning as he pushed hard. The man Leclerc replaced, Finnish former world champion Kimi Raikk-onen, pushed his Alfa Romeo — formerly Sauber — into sixth....