Hamilton quickest, Rosberg crashes in rain

Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:55am EDT
 
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - World champion Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets for Mercedes in both practice sessions of the Australian Grand Prix on Friday but team mate Nico Rosberg crashed as waterlogged conditions put a dampener on Formula One's season opener.

With intermittent showers blighting the day, the teams head into the race weekend short of set-up work and lacking valuable data on their tires, meaning qualifying could be a lottery.

Hamilton, bidding for a third successive title with Mercedes, could at least be satisfied with his pace, having been fastest on intermediate tires in the second session and with the soft set in the first.

The Briton posted a lap of one minute 29.725 seconds in the opener, more than four-tenths of a second quicker than Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat, then 1:38.841 in the second session on an Albert Park track rendered too wet for dry-weather tires.

"That was a good day. The car performed well and I was lucky to get a couple of dry laps," Hamilton told reporters.

"Hopefully it'll be dry tomorrow, so we can give something back to the fans who braved the weather."

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was second quickest in the later session, nearly half a second adrift of Hamilton, with Ferrari's former world champion Kimi Raikkonen third.

  Continued...

 
Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton locks up a wheel during the first practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne.   REUTERS/Jason Reed