E s was a long winter without them Formula 1. 117 days passed between the final act in Abu Dhabi 2017 and the season opening in Melbourne 2018. With two test weeks in Barcelona in between, which due to the weather was effective but only one test week. A small appetizer, so to speak, for the 69th season of the premier class.
The fans waited impatiently for the kick-off. The drivers too. Above all Sebastian Vettel. At least that's the impression. Last year's World Cup runner-up drove his Ferrari SF71H as the first of the 20 drivers on the 5.303-kilometer course on Friday training, which is characterized by many slow and medium-fast corners and an undulating and poor grip asphalt. The other steering wheel actors followed gradually.
Halo as a flaw
The purists will have watched the exit of the 20 cars with the corners of their mouth lowered. For them, the Halo cockpit protection is an eyesore on the high-tech machines. Like potatoes on a cheese pizza, so to speak. That just doesn't fit. The FOM has to come up with something. Because the three-legged titanium bracket restricts the onboard cameras' view of the track. That should displease all fans. Be it as it may. In any case, it doesn’t prevent the pilots from gasping up hard.
The first free practice went without major incidents. With the exception of a couple of slowdowns and small slips in the grass, everyone got through the first 90 minutes without a hitch. Lewis Hamilton showed the competition how strong he and his Mercedes are. The defending champion easily set the first record of the year.
Renault used measuring grids behind the front axle to evaluate its front wing, which was newly introduced in the Barcelona tests. Force India sprayed FloViz paint on the VJM11's new diffuser to reproduce the airflow. Otherwise, setup and tire work was part of the teams' specifications. Melbourne spoiled with temperatures of over 25 degrees. That could change on Saturday and Sunday. There are threatening rain showers.
In our photo show we show you the impressions of the training Friday. As you are used to from us, we mix the photos of the drivers on the track with photos of technical details of the cars.