So much for this being a more competitive championship this year.
We’re only 2 practice rounds in to the 2017 Formula 1 season, and it looks like we are in for another year of nothing but silver on the top step of the podium. Lewis Hamilton is back is on form, leading the scoring sheets by over five tenths of a second. His teammate Valtteri Bottas was right there with him in FP1, but FP2 saw him drop behind Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel.
Red Bull certainly turned a few heads by putting their two cars in the best position to call themselves, ‘best of the rest’ in FP1, only to fall back to where we anticipated them to be, behind Ferrari, come FP2.
So while the top of the grid seems fairly straight ahead, when we move down the scoring sheets, things get interesting. Felipe Massa’s 7th place in FP1 will surely please both himself and Williams. Perhaps I was a bit early to call him down and done. It appears the old man still has a few tricks up his sleeve. His teammate, Lance Stroll, wasn’t as lucky, finished six tenths off his teammate down in 13th position. What does that tell us? Not much, unfortunately, however much I would love to jump up and down on Stroll, he is only 19 and this is his first Grand Prix weekend, so I’ll cut the kid some slack.
The most impressive performance from the midfield, for me, is Toro Rosso’s 7th and 10th place in FP2. In my mind, this is a pretty solid solidification of two things. One, they have a good car, and two considering Sainz beat Kvyat by over four tenths, Sainz is clearly the better driver and will continue to beat his Russian teammate.
Haas and Renault will be please with Grosjean and Hulkenberg’s respective top ten showings in FP2. This is the area of the field I will be watching incredibly closely once qualifying starts up. The P7 to P11 slots are occupied by drivers from 4 different teams, all of whom are within a half second of each other.
I don’t have any doubt that Mercedes will take the pole tomorrow, but the best battle in qualifying will be who makes it to Q3. I think both Toro Rosso’s can make it. Along with Hulkenberg’s Renault. As for the last spot? Massa pulls it out, leaving his teammate in the dust.
I’ll be tweeting updates and thoughts during Quals tonight, if I get the chance. Be sure to follow! @theformula78
File Under: F1, Australia, Practice