Lewis Hamilton began the defence of his Formula 1 title in the best-possible fashion by topping the timesheets in both of yesterday’s rain-affected practice sessions.
Hamilton completed only 21 laps at Melbourne’s Albert Park with heavy rain and intermittent rain causing havoc to the start of the new season.
Nico Rosberg, bidding to stop his Mercedes team-mate Hamilton from winning three successive championships, was the day’s biggest victim after he dropped his car in the slippery conditions and crashed into the wall.
The 30-year-old German sustained damage to his front wing and while he attempted to limp back to the pits, he was told to stop on track. Rosberg, after hitching a lift back to the paddock, then watched the remainder of the session from the back of the Mercedes garage.
In contrast, Hamilton was nearly half a second faster than the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari third.
But with such limited running, due to the inclement conditions, little can be learned from the times which were posted.
“For the people tuning in at home it must have been boring,” Hamilton, 31, said.
“Definitely someone was having their breakfast, or eating their food, and their head fell into their plate, because it must have been super boring.
“There is not too much running because it is wet and slippery, but I am happy with how the session went.
I hope that (today) is a better day. (Yesterday) has been up and down, and it is almost like we have brought the British weather with us.”
Asked how he felt to be leading the order, Hamilton replied: “It doesn’t really mean anything, but I definitely feel like I got what I needed. I didn’t make any mistakes so I was really happy.”
One man who did make a rather embarrassing faux pas was Hamilton’s rival Rosberg.
“That wasn’t a good start to the weekend for me,” he said. “It was very wet out there, which made it tricky.
“It’s a shame that I lost the car in P2. I just applied a little too much throttle through turn 7, spun round and touched the wall.
“My front wing was quite damaged, so unfortunately the boys will have some extra work to do.”
Albert Park had been bathed in 32 degree heat as the drivers conducted their media duties on Thursday, but fast-forward 24 hours and they were greeted by an altogether different prospect.
The temperate dropped to 16 degrees yesterday with the bad weather likely to leave the fans who descended upon Albert Park feeling feeling reactively short-changed.
The changeable conditions are set to continue through until today, but tomorrow’s race is expected to be dry.
Meanwhile, FIA are confident they will be able to police the sport’s latest clampdown on team radio transmissions.
The new ruling is designed to place more emphasis on the driver, rather than the team, and thus provide greater unpredictability during the races.
Jenson Button was among a number of drivers to express his concern over the clampdown, saying it would be ‘’impossible’’ to police, but race director Charlie Whiting is confident there will be no such problems.
Whiting said: “We are listening to it in real time, so we have got four people in race control listening to three drivers each. And then we have got four or five software engineers listening to two or three each.
‘’We will hear every single message, I am absolutely sure of that.”