Hamilton dominates season's first practice

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Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in both practice sessions at the Australian Grand Prix this morning.

Briton Hamilton, the victor of four of the last five titles, believes the Silver Arrows have a battle on their hands this season against Ferrari, whose auto showed impressive pace and reliability during winter testing.

After a winter trying to forget the 2018 season, Bottas said he returns to racing this year with a new mindset.

Mercedes fought back and things were in the balance.

Vettel torpedoed the notion, saying the auto simply felt different to the one tested in Barcelona.

Vettel has enjoyed great success in Australia during his career and has won the last two editions of the race for Ferrari. 'This turn out means it's probably going to be a good weekend!' Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc also took part in the glitzy event before they and the rest of the teams swapped the stage for the track.

Ferrari emerged from 2019 pre-season testing as the ones to beat.

"If you look how close it actually is, even the mid pack is a lot closer, so I would say even more than ever before there's even less margin for error".

"But an F1 season is not just about who comes out of the blocks quickest", he added.

Alarm bells were ringing when team engineers could be seen taking a hammer to Ricciardo's seat in the garage in a desperate bid to get the belt to fit.

Vettel was just 0.03secs slower than Hamilton in the first session of the day, as 0.084secs covered them and Verstappen.

Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, had a near miss with a barrier after skimming a grass patch on the outside and locking up into a spin.

With the cars not out on the track until tomorrow, Ricciardo joined drivers on the Melbourne Walk where they arrive at the back of the pits and spend time signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.

British born Thai driver, Alexander Albon will make his debut for Toro Rosso, as the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi marks his debut for Alfa Romeo, with 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, as his teammate.

Vettel is a victor and having to settle for second in the drivers and constructors championship past year was tough to take.

"To be honest it was a bit more of a hard day, and then we got the one lap in with the soft tyre at the end of FP2 which put us in a more competitive place", he said. (If drivers don't hit this weight then ballast is added to their cockpit.) If he continues the form seen a year ago, then there is every possibility that he will secure another world title - his third in a row and sixth overall.