It is inevitably in a strange atmosphere that starts the 2019 Formula 1 season on the track since, for the first time since 1997, the race director will not be Charlie Whiting. The Briton, who died in Melbourne on Thursday while preparing to return to the post, was replaced by Michael Masi, who was one of his deputies. If the atmosphere is so charged, the weather conditions are ideal with sunny skies over Albert Park and temperatures of 20 ° C in the air and 33 ° C on the track when you start the session.
After the green light, it is Kimi Räikkönen which offers the first release on the track of the year. The exit of the garage of George Russell It's a bit difficult, because the British saw a little wide drive in the narrow Melbourne lane; its mechanics are in charge of correcting it quickly and putting it back on track. All pilots, except for Romain Grosjean, perform their installation lap in the first ten minutes before returning and leave the track completely for a few moments.
Bottas, the first time
At the end of the first 20 minutes of sitting, Valtteri Bottas breaks the silence and marks the first time of the season in 1 & # 39; 26 "4 (in medium), marks that then improves in 1 & # 39; 24" 6, meanwhile united on the sheet of time by his teammate Lewis Hamilton, as well as McLaren, Williams and Alexander Albon. At Ferrari, we start visibly from a different program from the first few times, yet the tenders are relatively distant from the Finnish.
On the other hand, after 30 minutes of driving, Max Verstappen (soft) is less than three tenths of the Mercedes at number 77, before Hamilton enters, 0 "177 (medium) of his teammate. The Dutchman, in a tender attack, returns to 86 thousandth of the provisional leader but, again, the five-time world champion is still approaching a little later, with only a slight delay of 0 "059 (medium).
As usual, before the 40-minute shot, the drivers return to the stands to give Pirelli a first set of tires, as required by the regulations. The opportunity to see it Nico Hulkenberg is the only driver not having a signed time, and for good reason: the German has encountered an electronic problem and it was necessary to disassemble the flat bottom of R.S.18.
Albon, before the accident
Lando Norris restart hostilities within 40 minutes of the first checkered flag of the season coming out of the pits after a long general silence. With the increase in wind on the circuit, most riders go on the track with soft tires. This allows Bottas to improve his first time in 1 & # 39; 23 "8.
In the pits, Russell has a technical problem at the end of the pitlane and his mechanics have to go back to the garage. Hamilton did not care and took control of the session 30 minutes from the end, even in the race and 1 & # 39; 23 "5. Verstappen then crouched between the two Mercedes, 193 thousandths of the number 44. launched the tower, Daniel Ricciardo is embarrassed by Grosjean in the last sector.
The Ferrari finally goes on the assault of the watch 25 minutes from the end of the session, in a soft and almost at the same time. Charles Leclerc is Sebastian Vettel failing at 0 "074 and 0" 038 respectively from Hamilton, and this season is marked by his first incident: Albon lost control of his Toro Rosso at the exit of turn 2, beating back and forth. the car does not seem to be damaged by the impact, even if the front and rear wings, at least, have to be changed The red flag is temporarily brandished, but the Thai can return to his stand with his own means, it is only of short duration.
When the track is open again, Hülkenberg finally takes the road. Bottas also, visibly loaded in substance. The Finn is scared in the penultimate corner of the circuit, braking a little on the grass, pulling straight into the loophole before returning in the direction of the march with a 180 ° while he is very safe near the wall. forum after this event.
The end of the session is marked by the work of long relays on a track mounted at more than 40 ° C. Kvyat returns to the site complaining of his right rear tire. Hamilton passes first under the checkered flag that marks the end of the session, with the best time in front of both Ferraris. It's already half a second better than the best time of the 2018 EL1s.