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April 30 2017, 06:45 | Van Peters
F1: Five talking points ahead of 2017 season
The Rolex Australian Grand Prix will take place on Sunday 26 March, 2017.
Edging his rivals by a narrow margin of 0.368 seconds, the three time World Champion was followed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in second spot and team-mate Valterri Bottas in third spot.
In 2010, Williams made him their F1 test driver, and for the 2013 season he became the second Finn after Keke Rosberg to race for Williams. "As I said the auto feels good, we've improved it so the pace feels much better than yesterday when we had some practice".
"I am very excited about going up against Lewis".
"Since then I have perceived him as being in a really good place".
And the Briton is keen for that to change, telling a news conference ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix: "I've not had a lot of battles with Sebastian on track so, of course, I would love to have that". Team principal Toto Wolff had told the British driver to speed up but Hamilton refused. The restless lifestyle, the frequent trips to NY and Los Angeles to pursue his wider interests are still very much on the agenda. If you've got a gap already at the beginning it's hard to squish that gap being that there are rules in terms of how much investment and time you can put into developing your cars.
"You need the talent to drive this vehicle on the edge with the right speed and then you need to have the diligence and the understanding of doing the office job right".
Ferrari had appeared capable of shifting the balance during pre-season testing but Mercedes once again look like being the team to beat.
The new regulations for 2017 allowed for wider tires with more grip and durability, greater aerodynamics, bigger fuel loads and increased downforce and were created to increase speed.
But Hamilton is relishing the challenge and aims to start the new campaign in the form he finished the last, form which brought a quartet of wins. Hamilton's times were five seconds quicker than in 2016.
The three-time world champion had the fastest time in morning practice and his afternoon session time of 1 minute, 23.620 seconds was quicker than the racing mark Michael Schumacher set in winning the 2004 title at the 5.303-kilometre (3.295-mile) Albert Park Circuit.
"I only saw a small part of the preparation but it's really nice to see all the work has paid off".
"I think Valtteri did a fantastic job in his first qualifying session, which is great for us".
Hamilton started from pole position here previous year but finished second to Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the Grand Prix. "He is happy, he is motivated and I have seen for me the strongest Lewis on track I have seen so far, consistently over the weekend". "But I'm proud of what the team has done".