Hamilton fastest in wet opening practice at Australian GP

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 18, 2016 03:35 PM
Hamilton fastest in wet opening practice at Australian GP
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the second practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, March 18, 2016. The season's opening race will be held here on Sunday March 20. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

CHRIS LINES, AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in first practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, though a wet track at the Albert Park street circuit meant there was little meaningful running on Friday.

Hamilton best lap was 1:29.725 seconds — 3.4 seconds slower than last year's pole position time — and that was four tenths of a second faster than Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull. Local favorite Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg were third and fourth.

Heavy morning showers created a wet track, and intermittent showers through the session meant there were only two brief windows of a few minutes each in which drivers were able to use dry-weather tires.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was not able to complete a lap, with rain arriving each time he was preparing to venture out on track.

Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen set the fifth best time, ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, whose time was more than two seconds off that of Hamilton. Though the conditions made many times misleading, the German will be disappointed in not being able to land a psychological blow on his teammate in their tense intra-team rivalry.

McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were seventh and eighth respectively, in a more encouraging showing for a team that expects to make major early progress this season after a very disappointing first season with Honda engines in 2015.

Force India's Sergio Perez was ninth, and Kevin Magnussen 10th in what was both his first session back as a race driver after one year with McLaren, and the first for Renault, which is returning as a team after serving as an engine supplier.

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