Teams' reaction following the opening day in Melbourne

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The opening day of the Australian Grand Prix saw Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc set the pace with championship runaway leader Max Verstappen forced to settle for second spot on the leaderboard.


Ferrari had a strong opening day, although it was not surprising given their encouraging pace in the opening two rounds of the season. Leclerc looked quick on both the medium and the soft compound, and he displayed great speed during his high-fuel run.

His team-mate Carlos Sainz made his return after his surgery. The first signs are positive as the Spaniard did not complain about big issues, although he felt tired after the two one-hour sessions. Ferrari made special changes to his seat which should enable the two-time race winner to continue to drive his SF-24 this weekend.

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:18.599, P4; FP2: 1:17.277, P1

"It was a solid first day, everything felt good from the start and I was comfortable in the car. The most important thing for us to do tomorrow will be to go with the track and anticipate what the evolution will be like. We will focus on optimising our balance and try to make a step forward before qualifying.

"It looks good for now but we have to wait and see how it will look tomorrow, I expect the field to be much tighter."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:18.686, P8; FP2: 1:17.707, P3

"It’s been a couple of tough weeks leading to today and to be honest I’m very happy I could complete both sessions feeling reasonably comfortable. I will continue to take it step by step to make sure I come to qualifying and to the race in the best form possible.

"I’m confident tomorrow will be better and overall, the car seems to be in a good place this weekend. We’ll try to maximise everything from body and machine!"

Red Bull

Having dominated proceedings so far this season, Max Verstappen looked a step behind pace-setting Charles Leclerc. However, the opening practice days of the first two race weekends have shown that Red Bull use an unusually low engine mode on Friday which means that the Dutchman might find himself back in dominant form come qualifying and the race.

Sergio Perez confirmed that degradation has been an issue during long runs with Pirelli's aggressive tyre choice for this weekend which could lead to a few interesting strategy variations.

Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:18.582, P2; FP2: 1:17.658, P2

“Today was a little bit messy because of what happened in FP1: we had some damage to the floor and chassis, which took a bit longer to fix meaning I had a bit of catch up to do. The turnaround was very quick and Team did a great job but we ended up losing a bit of running time in FP2. Normally I would have liked to have had a few more laps and I didn’t manage to do many long runs but I think that the laps we did were good. I think we know what we have to focus on and we have a few things to fine tune but we are looking forward to tomorrow."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:18.642, P6; FP2: 1:18.090, P8

“It was a tricky Friday in general and overall, I think we have some work to do overnight. Melbourne is also quite difficult when you move to the afternoon because the visibility is super poor with the low sun in your face. I think we are in a good place this season with the car though and we should be looking strong for tomorrow.

"We need to put it all together because it will be important to qualify high up. Degradation wise it looks quite high on the long runs; we need to look at that and it will be interesting to see what the best strategy will be this weekend. I think Ferrari look strong, this circuit seems to be better for them, they have been competitive in the long runs. They will be a challenge to beat this weekend, generally they are quite fast around here so it could be interesting to see how we match up."


McLaren's Lando Norris finished the opening session on top, but he was unable to keep up with his rivals in the second one-hour session which was down to sudden gusts of wind according to the Bristol-born driver. His team-mate Oscar Piastri is to complete his second home race, and he looks much more confident than he was a year ago.

Lando Norris – FP1: 1:18.564, P1; FP2: 1:18.155, P9

“A reasonable day. We struggled to find a bit of confidence given the gusts of wind, so we didn’t get the best feeling, but I think the pace is reasonable. We’re in the mix, which is a good sign. It should make our lives exciting tomorrow – but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to make the most of it.”

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:18.918, P10; FP2: 1:18.077, P7

“First day in Melbourne. All-in-all, not a bad day. We were a bit up-and-down but there were definitely some positive signs. We’ll have a look and see what we can find for tomorrow – but it’s been nice to be driving back at home. We’ve got a few things to look at and try to work on but I'm feeling optimistic.”

Aston Martin

Aston Martin seems to mirror the performance they showed two weeks ago in Jeddah. Their 2024 F1 car seems to excel in low-fuel configuration, and they once again appear to be a firm contender for top positions in qualifying.

Having said that, Fernandno Alonso had a tough start to his weekend as a snap of oversteer at Turn 10 led to floor damage which compromised his day. His team-mate Lance Stroll showed a much improved form compared to his difficult start to the season, having set the fourth quickest time behind the two Ferraris and Verstappen.

Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:19.716, P18; FP2: 1:17.912, P5

"It's always tricky here at Albert Park – the track rubbers in quite a lot and the grip changes. That led to me running through the gravel at Turn 10 during FP1, so we had to change the floor during the session. Our programme was a little compromised due to that, but FP2 ran smoothly and we completed everything we set out to do.

It's always satisfying to be towards the top of the timesheet, but we won’t draw any conclusions from today as it's only Free Practice and there are still plenty of variables to consider. We have a lot of data to now analyse in order to give us the best chance of getting a positive result in Qualifying."

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:18.667, P7; FP2: 1:17.822, P4

"The car felt good today. I was happy with the balance, and we had a straightforward day gathering plenty of data. We've been pretty strong on one-lap pace this season, so it's positive to see we've kept that up here. But let's keep our feet on the ground because it's Free Practice and we don't know what the others have been doing.

"Nevertheless, a positive start to the weekend and I'm looking forward to getting back into the car for Qualifying tomorrow."


Mercedes had an interesting day. The team has analysed the data they gathered in Bahrain and Jeddah to make key changes to the W15 which has produced excessive amount of bouncing in high-speed corners so far this season. The opening practice in Melbourne saw Lewis Hamilton and George Russell jump out of their car with a smile on their face as they were much more delighted with the balance of their car.

However, the team has elected to perform experiments with extreme setup solutions on Hamilton's car which made the seven-time world champion's car very difficult to drive. Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin confirmed that the team will revert to more conventional setup on Hamilton's car for the rest of the weekend.

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:18.771, P9; FP2: 1:18.834, P18

"It didn’t feel great out there today. We began the day on the front foot and in FP1, the car generally felt good. The first run was actually the best the car has felt so far this year. To continue our learning, we made some big changes into FP2 and unfortunately, that made the car worse. It was tough but there are positives we can take from the first session. We will be working hard overnight to make improvements ahead of tomorrow."

George Russell - FP1: 1:18.597, P3; FP2: 1:17.951, P6

"We were pushing the limits today and I had a few moments out there. It was all under control in the end though. It was very tight out there in the first session with FP2 slightly more spread out. I was on for a really good lap on my last push on the Soft tyre, but just ran wide in the last two corners and picked up some minor damage to my front-wing. Without that, I think we would have finished the session P3.

"We are trying to understand this car further and made some changes after Saudi Arabia. Every single lap is so valuable as you learn more about the car and try to get it into the sweet spot. We will have the team back at the factory working hard in the simulator to get more performance out of it. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. When you arrive the next day, it can often be very different."


Alex Albon - FP1: 1:19.443, P12; FP2: DNS

"It was a tricky session in FP1 and I paid the price for it. I ran a little wide and went up onto the exit curb and bottomed out when I landed, so it’s frustrating. I think we have a car that’s quite quick this weekend, so it’s disappointing to not have been able to participate in FP2. We don’t have a spare chassis and I know the team are working hard on what repairs can be made, so we’ll know more soon."

Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:19.519, P14; FP2: 1:18.578, P13

"There was good grip out there compared to last year but the wind picked up this afternoon, making it a little more unpredictable. Generally, on low fuel, we have a decent car with the good news being that we’re at the fine-tuning stage, however, I obviously lost that Medium tyre on the spin and didn’t get a high fuel run. Despite this, we’re in a good place ahead of tomorrow and there’s still some more to get out of the car. As a team, we’re on the backfoot a bit this weekend but we’ll do what we can."


Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:19.274, P11; FP2: 1:18.534, P12

“Firstly, it was just nice to be back on track – it’s a good one. For myself, Oscar and Valtteri it’s obviously emotional. The crowd is crazy like you’d get at a rock concert, there are so many people here for a Practice day. I think Albert Park has always done a good job at keeping it full all day. You come to watch on a Friday and you don’t just see F1, it’s V8, Porsche, F2, 3 – it’s a lot. It’s good that Aussie motorsport is strong, and it’s reaching areas like Valtteri in Finland.

“I drove here in 2022 when they just made the track changes. It’s a lot faster than it used to be, it’s good. I think as a team we started the morning on the front foot, and I think this afternoon, the others found a little more. I think we’re definitely still within a shot of Q3 tomorrow.

"There are a lot of corners where, because it’s still a street circuit obviously, you put it on the edge. I think the conditions and grip were pretty good and it was fun to get into it. There’s a little bit of work to do tonight but nothing too crazy. As always, I think there’s a bit of finetuning of the car, and it should give us a good chance for tomorrow. In terms of race pace, with the little long run that we did, it seems okay. Let’s qualify in the top 10 and then it’ll all get easier from there.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:18.621, P5; FP2: 1:18.188, P10

“As a first day, we’re in good shape compared to the last two races. The team did a fantastic job in terms of preparation, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Obviously, the field is very tight in qualifying as we know, so we’ll finetune the small details, and I know those things will come and we’ll be able to put it all together tomorrow. Now it’s maximum preparation tonight, I’ll push as much as I can and hopefully, we make it to Q3!”


Haas appear to struggle for one-lap pace on low fuel, but they might be in the mix come race day as they high-fuel runs have been fairly encouraging. Kevin Magnussen finished last on the leaderboard, but he said it was down to a mistake that he made during his qualifying simulation run, that's why he is confident that he might find himself much higher up on the order on Saturday.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:19.604, P16; FP2: 1:18.702, P16

“It’s been very windy today and I think that’s why we’ve seen so many people go off; it makes it pretty tricky out there. It’s such a high-speed circuit now and there’s no margin for error, so you can get caught out very easily. Our Friday was fine with no issues, so it was the usual program to clean some things up for tomorrow.

"I feel our one-lap pace wasn’t shining today so we have a bit of homework to do to find some performance over one lap. I think in the long run, I felt better than on my low-fuel run, so that’s nice for a change as that wasn’t always the case last year but we’re trying to optimise both as much as we can.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:19.489, P13; FP2: 1:19.275, P19

“We had two good free practice sessions today so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow. It’s a very tight field so we could be anywhere almost, certainly in the mix for P10 or P11. I got a run on the soft tyre but I didn’t set a time on it – I messed up my laps – but on the medium compound it looks promising so we’ll look at the sectors. There’s some pace in there.”

Kick Sauber

Having carried over his form from the opening two rounds, Zhou Guanyu continued to have the upper hands in terms of the intra-team battle with Valtteri Bottas. The Hinwil-based outfit has introduced tweaks to the front wing for the Melbourne round which they hope can bring the crucial performance gain to lift their competitiveness in the extremely tight midfield battle.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:20.014, P20; FP2: 1:18.585, P14

“Today was really productive for understanding the car, especially in light of the new upgrades we brought to Australia. We focused on fulfilling our program and on set-up work where we have taken a small step forward: but there is definitely more to unlock tonight.

"We are aiming for a minimum of Q2, but if we get everything right on Saturday, Q3 could be possible for us. Outside of the track, it's been absolutely brilliant to be in Melbourne and witness all the passion from the fans. The energy is always great, and I hope we can give the crowd some excitement this weekend: I’m looking forward to it.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:19.989, P19; FP2: 1:18.421, P11

“It is always great to be back in Melbourne. The fans bring an incredible sense of passion which makes coming back to the track exciting. Today was about understanding our upgrades and the track evolution, and I found a good rhythm with the car. After both sessions, this feels like a car I could push with, and shows the efforts the team, both here and back in Hinwil, has been making.

"We had a few setting changes between FP1 and FP2, and each time we develop the car, it seems to be going in the right direction. Our front wing upgrade is designed to help with the overall car balance – and there is still more to extract and learn about the car over the weekend. As we continue to finetune our package, I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend and believe we might be fighting closer to the points.”


Alpine still look to be off the pace of the midfield, although their long-run pace was more encouraging. It could mean that they will struggle to get out of the opening qualifying session, but they might be quick enough to battle with their direct rivals RB, Kick Sauber, Haas and Williams on Sunday.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:19.561, P15; FP2: 1:18.705, P17

“Today was productive and it was good to get out on track in front of full grandstands on a Friday, which is always the case with the fans here in Melbourne. The field is very tight, as it tends to be at Albert Park, so it will be important to extract the maximum from the package, as it could be the difference between one or two rows on the grid.

"There’s still some things we can improve ahead of tomorrow and we will keep working hard overnight to get prepared for Qualifying. It was interesting today to test the new softer compound tyre for this event compared to last year. In general, this is a low degradation circuit, so these changes could offer up some different strategy options and opportunities for the Grand Prix on Sunday.”