Charles Leclerc Leads Practice at Australian Grand Prix, Hamilton Struggles

In Friday’s practice sessions at the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped the time sheets, outpacing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Leclerc’s impressive performance came amidst a challenging day for Red Bull, with Verstappen encountering a setback after damaging his floor in an off-track incident during the first session.

Despite missing the first 20 minutes of practice, Verstappen couldn’t match Leclerc’s pace, trailing by 0.381 seconds. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz secured the third-fastest time, followed by Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin, and George Russell of Mercedes.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes faced difficulties, finishing 18th fastest and struggling for pace throughout the sessions. Hamilton expressed frustration over radio communications, indicating that something was wrong with the car. Team principal Toto Wolff acknowledged it was “not a good day” for the team.

Reflecting on his performance, Leclerc expressed optimism about Ferrari’s chances, suggesting they might have their “best shot” at challenging Red Bull this season. Verstappen remained confident, noting there were areas to fine-tune in the car.

The day saw several drivers facing challenges, with off-track moments at the high-speed chicane proving tricky for many. Notably, Williams driver Alex Albon crashed during the first session, forcing him to sit out the rest of the day. Mercedes also appeared to struggle, with both Russell and Hamilton experiencing moments during the sessions.

Despite the challenges, Ferrari’s strong showing in both single laps and longer runs bodes well for the team. Leclerc expressed satisfaction with the team’s progress but remained cautious, acknowledging that Red Bull had yet to show their full potential.

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