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Ferrari shines in long-awaited Albert Park return
Ferrari topped the timesheet in both of Friday’s free practice sessions as Formula 1 action returned to Albert Park for the first time since 2019 – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
The two Scuderia drivers set the pace in the two one-hour sessions ahead of Saturday afternoon’s all-important qualifying.
However, the second session saw the F1-75 of Charles Leclerc experience extreme porpoising issues, which will need to be remedied ahead of Sunday’s 58-lap race.
In FP1, Carlos Sainz‘s fastest lap time of 1:19:806 positioned him more than half a second ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc and both Red Bull cars.
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Sergio Perez finished third after a late fast lap placed him several tenths in front of reigning world champion Max Verstappen.
In the second running, the Ferrari drivers traded first position with Leclerc setting a 1:18:978, before Verstappen edged closer to split the pair.
In his first grand prix weekend of the season after contracting COVID-19, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel failed to set a lap time in FP2 after his car lost power, coming to a smoking stop on the side of the track.
While his team swapped out his Mercedes-Benz engine for a new one in the break between sessions, there was not enough time to finalise the car for another attempt.
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Australian Daniel Ricciardo‘s hopes of progressing to Q3 for the first time this season were strengthened by an encouraging showing from McLaren.
After hovering inside the top six divers, Ricciardo finished in eighth and 10th, 1.225 seconds behind Leclerc in FP2.
Mercedes once again struggled to find pace with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton positioned outside the points before Saturday’s final test.
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