Melbourne: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg justified their pre-race favouritism with the fastest times in practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday. Former Formula One world champion Hamilton overcame mechanical problems in the first session to top the charts just ahead of his German team-mate Rosberg. (Click here for latest on Formula One)
Rival drivers have tipped the Mercedes pair to fight it out for Sunday's race, given the team's superior pre-season testing and adjustment to sweeping technical changes. A return to turbocharged engines, lower fuel loads, gearbox changes and new energy recovery systems are among significant rule changes for the new season.
Hamilton put in a scorching lap on soft tyres to post a best time of one minute 29.625, some 0.157secs ahead of Rosberg (1:29.782). The Mercedes duo were the only drivers to go below 1:30, demonstrating an early edge over the rest of the field ahead of Saturday's qualifying for grid positions. (Racecentre)