Many predicted over the winter pre-season tests that Mercedes would begin the 2015 formula one season with a good advantage ahead of all the other teams. On Friday at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, that theory was put into true practice as Nico Rosberg and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton placed 1-2 in practice for Sunday’s opening Grand Prix of Australia.
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The German, who just lost out to this teammate last season in the final race of the year, came on strong, by taking both free practices one and two, with a best posted time of 1:27:697, which was set in the afternoon. Other drivers were nowhere near their best times, as only Sebastian Vettel, now in the colors of Ferrari red, was nearly over a second behind his countryman. His teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, finished in fourth, giving the prancing horse the idea that at least they have improved and now must take the fight to Mercedes.
All day, the real talk was about Sauber and whether or not Guido Van De Garde would drive after winning a court case against the team. The answer was a certain negative and with the battle still continuing on, the Swiss team did not take their cars out at all, preferring to bring them into practice two in the afternoon. Manor Marussia on the other hand, had no politics, but no data set for the drivers. This continued on into the afternoon runs, and are worried that if this data is not set, then their paired pilots of Will Stevens and Riccardo Mehri will not appear for the qualifying rounds on Saturday or the race the following day.
It was a big problem for Williams Felipe Massa and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as both drivers could not get out of the garage in the afternoon. The Brazilian had a problem in the Mercedes with a water leak, and the Australian encountered an engine problem altogether, and had to change it. Considering it seems like the Renault engine was giving Red Bull fits, Dani Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. had good results, placing sixth and seventh, respectively. If any team was worse off, it was McLaren-Honda, still trying to find the potential of the engine, with Jenson Button finishing in 13th. But teammate Kevin Magnussen, filling in for Fernando Alonso in this race, crashed into turn six, after losing the rear of his car and missing an apex. Magnussen himself took the full blame for the shunt.
“I couldn’t avoid hitting the wall. It was a driver mistake. It’s a shame, but these things happen – my bad – and life goes on.” Stated an honest Magnussen afterwards.
For Rosberg, it was a great start and unless other entries begin to challenge the Mercedes duo sooner than later, both the German and his Briton teammate might battle it out again by themselves. But Rosberg is not worried about this—just glad to be back driving the car.
"It was great to be back in the car at this awesome track, said Rosberg. Today we have the evidence that our Silver Arrow is quick again and it was a great start for the Team. I was very happy with my long run but on one lap I still need to work on the pace as I had a lot of oversteer in the car. It seems again that it’s very close between Lewis and me and he is a great driver, so I need to nail the setup every time to come out on top. This year will be a big battle again against him, I’m sure. I’m looking forward to the first weekend of the new season with all the great fans out there."