2023 Australian Grand Prix - Friday
WHAT HAPPENED TODAY
- The FP1 session was interrupted a couple of times and finished earlier than the scheduled 60 minutes, giving the teams a bit more work to do. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fastest on a 1m18.790s, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton 0.433s behind him, and the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez third. The top two set their best times on the P Zero Red soft, whereas the Mexican used the P Zero Yellow medium.
- The FP1 times were around a second faster than they had been last year, in similar weather conditions. Furthermore, the softest tyre nomination in 2022 was the C5, with a step between the medium and soft. The C5 wasn’t used as part of the race strategy by the teams, who focused instead on the hard compound. This year, the three nominated compounds are consecutive, in order to offer a wider range of strategic options.
- While Verstappen was quickest on the soft in FP1, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso used the medium tyre to go quickest in FP2. The fastest time on the P Zero White hard (1m19.672s) was set by Mercedes driver George Russell in FP2. When the track was wet, McLaren’s local hero Oscar Piastri was quickest on the Cinturato Green intermediate, setting a benchmark of 1m28.110s.
- The FP2 session came to an end on the intermediate tyres, with light rain falling around 15 minutes into the session. The fastest times were set on the medium shortly after the session started at 4pm, with Alonso recording a 1m18.887s, followed by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc (1m19.332s) and Verstappen (1m19.502s).
- The temperature dropped in the afternoon, also due to the worsening weather. The FP1 session was partially cloudy with ambient temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees centigrade, while track temperature varied between 27 and 36 degrees. In FP2, with winds gusting up to 25kph, ambient temperatures dropped to between 16 and 17 degrees, with a minimum track temperature of 21.8 degrees.
“It’s been a variable day. As always at Albert Park, the asphalt conditions change very quickly, especially in the early sessions, and today was no exception. It started raining shortly after the start of FP2 in the afternoon and that complicated the picture even more, as it wasn’t possible to carry out the long runs needed for a full assessment of the tyres. This means that all the preparation work done before Melbourne takes on extra significance, especially when it comes to strategies. From what we can see up to now this weekend’s trio of compounds are behaving as we expected, also in terms of performance gaps. All three types of tyre are valid options for the race, offering a wide range of possible strategies. We saw a bit of graining on the medium and soft in FP1, with a ‘green’ track and relatively low temperatures, while FP2 meant that the drivers were able to get at least an initial impression of the intermediates. There’s one free practice session left before qualifying that will give drivers a chance to carry out the long runs that have been missing so far, in weather conditions that should be better. That’s another interesting factor to consider as the Australian Grand Prix weekend continues.”
Number of the day: 21
The time taken to make a pit stop in Melbourne is around 21 seconds from start to finish; one of the fastest in the entire championship. That’s largely because the Albert Park pit lane is only 281 metres long. Being a street circuit, there’s also a relatively high safety car probability at 67%. So it’s going to be important to evaluate the total time loss from pit lane entry to exit (including time stationary, which is around 2.5 seconds) under the safety car as well this weekend.
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