5 things we learned from Friday’s workout at the Australian Grand Prix

On the first day of training at the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari bypassed the favorites before the Red Bull weekend. But analysis of the data shows that there is nothing to choose between the two teams that have dominated the company so far. Here are five things we learned at the renovated Albert Park in Melbourne.

1. Ferrari has set an impressive pace

Speaking over the weekend, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari said that while they expected to participate in the mix, they felt that the changes in the track, which removed the chic, reduced five corners and a complete overhaul, would not suit their car.

On Friday, it turned out that the new speed section from turns 6 to new turns 9 and 10 is their weak spot compared to Red Bull, with red cars on straight and fast turns slower than Red Bull.

FP2: Leclerc leads Ferstappen at second practice Grand Prix of Australia

However, they are the fastest of all in slow and medium turns – and this makes them a share ahead in both qualifying and racing, according to our data.

However, there is work to be done as both drivers strive for more comfort in the car, Science admits they suffer from guinea pigs. As for qualifying, he said a lot will depend on how everyone gets the best out of the soft tire, and Ferrari and Red Bull will be faster on the second – and even third – on the C5 with the cooling circles in between.


2. Red Bull is chasing balance

Red Bull will not be too disappointed if the data will be dropped on Friday night. Four-time world champions have been ahead of Ferrari in the standings, but when time is overestimated by fuel, they know they are right in the hunt.

Max Ferstappen would have matched Leclerc’s time if he had collected all his best mini-sectors, according to our data, but the Dutchman encountered traffic on one of his soft tires and then made a mistake in the penultimate corner on the other.

READ MORE: Ferstappen avoids breaking with Ferrari when he says Red Bull “more or less” is going to Albert Park

The reigning world champion was also pleased with how the car felt on higher fuel: the RB18 lagged behind Ferrari by just 0.01 seconds in our racing simulation rankings.

His teammate Sergio Perez was more disappointed, hinting that the car felt better in FP1 than in FP2 as they headed in the wrong direction with the setup – but he remained optimistic that his team could find “a few tenths” that, in his view, change the weekend in their favor.


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3. McLaren faster than expected

Ever since their deplorable experience with the front axle in Bahrain, McLaren has taken a step forward, and although they are small, further improving understanding of their package has led them to fight not only for the third quarter but also to fight for points on Sunday.

READ MORE: McLaren drivers welcome “best Friday” of the season after finishing in the top 10 in Melbourne

This is good news for local fans who dream of a great outcome for their hero Daniel Ricciardo. He was modest in his expectations this weekend, despite the orange cars showing a turn of pace that few expected. In one lap they seem to be the sixth fastest car, but if Landa Norris had connected all her best sectors, he would have been sixth of all.

The pace of the race is less impressive, with McLaren second in slowness on the straight, but both riders feel confident enough with the car – and there’s a caveat that the British team rarely shows its true face on Friday.


The perfect circle is FP2.png

4. Alpine fast in the fast middle sector

The fight in the pre-season race in Barcelona now seems distant to Alpine. The team from Anston scored 16 points in the first two rounds, which put it in fourth place in the constructors’ standings.

And that encouraging pace continued in Melbourne as the blue and pink cars returned to their permanent inverted livery by the end of the season – especially fast on the straight, which explains why they were so powerful in the new high-speed mid-sector.

READ MORE: Alpine pilots prepare for fierce battle for third-quarter seats despite strong Friday in Melbourne

In qualifying athletics, Alpine was third in the series, lagging behind Ferrari and Red Bull by 0.69 s, but behind Mercedes by a quarter of a second. Our ideal lap data, which makes up the best mini-sectors of the driver, shows that Fernando Alonso got almost everything out of the car – by 0.004 sec. Athletic Director Alan Perman said they need to work hard to get the most out of the soft tire in the first qualifying round on time.

The pace of the race looks less good as they drop to fifth. This coincides with Alonso’s assessment that they have some balance issues that need to be addressed on higher fuel.

Fernando Alonso: Alpine “would like to be stronger” in the last sector in Melbourne

5. Mercedes is suffering again

Mercedes ’painful start to 2022 seems to continue in Melbourne, where reigning world champions are almost a second behind the pace of low fuel as they struggle in high-speed traffic.

Their race pace is a bit better as they go above Alpine in third place, but still 0.8 seconds per lap slower than Ferrari and Red Bull, which means the claim to the podium looks too far away.

READ MORE: “Nothing you change in the car doesn’t matter” – Mercedes drivers disappointed after a difficult Friday in Australia

Lewis Hamilton was upset after training, the Briton said that “nothing you change in the car does not matter at the moment”, while his teammate George Russell admitted that he suffers from “the most serious” the defeats he felt.

Due to the lack of updates this weekend, it may come as no surprise that Mercedes is no closer to the front of the pack – but this season they have demonstrated impressive resilience to adversity, and little evidence that it won’t continue here either.


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