Friday practice, timetables, news, position of Daniel Ricciardo, fastest Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, McLaren

Ferrari issued a major warning to its rivals at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, while Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren showed small signs of improvement.

Charles Leclerc dominated both practice sessions in his Ferrari, setting a best time of 1:18.978 – 0.245 seconds quicker than Max Verstappen and 0.398 ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz.

They were followed by Fernando Alonso of Alpine and Sergio Perez of Red Bull fourth and fifth respectively.

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Leclerc said earlier in the week that the changes to the layout of Albert Park might suit Red Bull more, but after the first day of racing in Melbourne Ferrari became the clear favourites.

Beep beep! Vettel scooter cruises | 00:59

Former Sky F1 driver and pundit Paul Di Resta said midway through FP2 that championship leaders Ferrari “looked absolutely in the zone” in Melbourne.

He added: “It’s so versatile. Every track we go to is clearly the benchmark and I’m going to say they look like they’ve taken a step up actually…

“They look a bit untouchable this weekend unless Red Bull saves something.”

Di Resta said it was “unusual” for Red Bull not to be quicker given their straight-line strength in the opening two rounds of the season.

“I suspect the hardest working team tonight will be Red Bull,” he said. “I know others are working hard but they’re definitely going to give that world title fight, they’re going to want to pick up speed, definitely in sector 3 and a bit in sector 1 as well.

“It’s unusual that he doesn’t have it, actually.”

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Daniel Ricciardo has reason to believe on his home track ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia on April 07, 2022 in MelbourneGetty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ricciardo was 10th fastest for McLaren after spending most of the first 20 minutes well inside the top six divers, along with teammate Lando Norris.

While a podium is still a distant dream, Ricciardo could have a fast enough package to reach Q3 for the first time this season.

In a positive sign for McLaren, Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok noted that at no time in the first two races had McLaren featured near the top of the timesheet in Friday practice.

“I know it’s Friday and all the usual caveats apply, but we haven’t seen that in the previous two weekends with McLaren being in the top six at the start,” he said. he declares.

“It was an encouraging day for McLaren, even in FP1 they seemed to be there or thereabouts, which is much better than what we have seen this season.

Ricciardo was optimistic after the last session and said there was still time to win on the soft link.

“Decent day. I think again for us, realistically where we think we’ll be, it’s been a good day – at least we’re there,” Ricciardo said.

“With the medium (tire) I felt good, (we) haven’t done as much on the soft but if we can do the same amount on the soft I’ll be happy with where we are.

“I think there is more to come with this tyre, other than driving I felt like I was on the limit today. I don’t have a second in my pocket but of course you will find some a bit as the week progresses.

Mercedes were once again behind with George Russell in 11th and Lewis Hamilton – who ventured into the gravel during FP2 – in 13th.

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Earlier, Ferrari duo Sainz and Leclerc were first and second fastest in the first hour-long session, with both setting times more than half a second quicker than Red Bull’s Perez and Verstappen in third and fourth.

Beep beep! Vettel scooter cruises | 00:59

Ricciardo finished eighth in FP1, 1.349 seconds slower than Sainz and three tenths behind teammate Norris in fifth.

The day saw three red flags interrupt the sessions as it was littered with embarrassing incidents that will occupy the stewards well into the night.

But the most high-profile case the stewards will consider concerns Sebastian Vettel, whose smoldering Aston Martin gave way towards the end of FP1, despite not returning for FP2.

In his first race this season after a Covid fight, Vettel retired in the first session and the fire extinguished his own car.

He then swung a moped back into the pit lane while soaking up the admiration of fans, even waving both hands on the handlebars at one point.

But as innocent as the moment seems, Vettel is being investigated by stewards for “unauthorized use” of the moped on the track. He will meet the commissioners after FP2.

Ricciardo eyeing Albert Park | 02:18

RICCIARDO REVEALS AUS GP TARGET AND OPENS ON ‘CRAZY’ MOMENT

Ricciardo has put on a good showing ahead of Friday’s practice at the Australian Grand Prix despite McLaren’s struggles in 2022, revealing he is targeting a debut season in Melbourne.

The Aussie is yet to claim a point this season or a Q3 feature, but he believes both boxes can be ticked at Albert Park.

Anything higher than an endpoint is unlikely to be reached, but Ricciardo said the Albert Park layout could go some way to helping McLaren regain speed on the pitch.

When asked if he expected a good race, he told reporters: “I hope so.

“I still have a good level of inner confidence, but in Bahrain we obviously weren’t competitive. A week later we went to Arabia and we showed more competitiveness – it was really just a weather dependent thing. track. I hope this circuit, I think it relies more on a Saudi layout than Bahrain and I think that will help us a bit where we are now.

He added: “Let’s try to qualify in Q3. It would be our first of the year, so that’s a goal.

Ricciardo also spoke of the savage reception he received outside the paddock when he arrived on Thursday.

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Ricciardo arrives at Albert Park on Thursday.Source: Getty Images

He said the buzz around Albert Park has reached levels he has never seen before anywhere.

“I don’t know if they thought the race was yesterday, but it was literally like Sunday. It was very special and a great welcome,” he said.

“It’s always been pretty wild here, that’s undeniable. It was as if it had gone up a notch, or two, or three.

“For a Thursday, and I’m talking about the world, it was the busiest Thursday I’ve experienced walking into a paddock. It certainly stood out and it’s great.

“You said mad, he’s definitely a good madman. There’s a lot of support and love and it’s not just for me, it’s for F1 and I think everyone is delighted to have the race here.”

MERCEDES DILEMA’S REALITY STARK

The extra week between the Saudi Arabian and Australian Grands Prix was expected to give Mercedes crucial time to address its major high-speed “porpoising” problem.

But new signing Russell says no major upgrades have arrived for Mercedes – and it could be a while before big changes are made.

Speaking to reporters ahead of practice, Russell played down Mercedes’ chances of a return to Melbourne, where Ferrari and Red Bull are expected to remain faster.

“Obviously we have to close that gap, but there’s nothing substantial this weekend that will,” he said. “It’s going to take time and I think we just have to be disciplined and patient.

“Because we’re so far behind and because of the cost cap, we can’t afford to just throw things around and trial and error on race weekends. We have to trust the process and make the updates. level when we have complete faith and confidence that will do what we expect.

“It will be a number of races before we start to see that.”

Earlier, team boss Toto Wolff warned there would be no “magic solution”.

“We are aiming to consistently deliver gains in the races to come, to hopefully get closer to the front of the peloton.” Wolff added.

Until then, we have to maximize every opportunity and make the most of the package we have.

Mercedes is already 40 points behind leader Ferrari.

Excitement mounts as F1 returns to Oz | 01:56

DUMPED RUSSIAN STAR BLAMES ‘CANCELLED CULTURE’ FOR CUT

Nikita Mazepin has spoken out about his Haas F1 dumping in the hours leading up to practice on Friday, blaming ‘cancellation culture’.

speaking on BBC Hardtalk, the 23-year-old lamented sanctions imposed on Russian athletes by the West which saw US-owned Haas terminate his contract before the first round.

“I don’t agree with being in the sanctions,” Mazepin said. “I said previously that I intended to fight him.

“Maybe it’s not the right time because if you look at the whole situation that’s happening against athletes in the general case, it’s nullifying the culture against my country.”

Mazepin landed a seat at Haas with the support of his father, Dmitry, owner of wealthy Russian fertilizer company Uralkali, who became the team’s main sponsor.

Dmitry Mazepin is on the EU sanctions list as “a member of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s closest circle”.

Nikita, on the other hand, is listed as a “person associated with a prominent businessman involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of income to the government of the Russian Federation”.

Memorable F1 moments in Melbourne! | 03:16

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