SETTING THE PACE: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton has set the fastest time in wet conditions during the first practice session of the season-opener in Melbourne, Australia. Image: AFP / Mark Thompson
Melbourne, Australia - Reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in first practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, though a wet track at the Albert Park street circuit meant there was little meaningful running on Friday.
Hamilton best lap was 1:29.725 seconds — 3.4 seconds slower than 2015's pole position time — and that was four tenths of a second faster than Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull. Local favorite Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg were third and fourth.
Read - As it happened: 2016 Australian GP 1st practice
Heavy morning showers created a wet track, and intermittent showers through the session meant there were only two brief windows of a few minutes each in which drivers were able to use dry-weather tires.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was not able to complete a lap, with rain arriving each time he was preparing to venture out on track.
Toro Rosso youngster Max Verstappen set the fifth best time, ahead of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, whose time was more than two seconds off that of Hamilton. Though the conditions made many times misleading, the German will be disappointed in not being able to land a psychological blow on his teammate in their tense intra-team rivalry.
McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were seventh and eighth respectively, in a more encouraging showing for a team that expects to make major early progress this season after a very disappointing first season with Honda engines in 2015.
Force India's Sergio Perez was ninth, and Kevin Magnussen 10th in what was both his first session back as a race driver after one year with McLaren, and the first for Renault, which is returning as a team after serving as an engine supplier.
Australian GP - 1st practice results
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1min29.725
2. Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Red Bull 1min30.146
3. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull 1min30.875
4. Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India 1min31.325
5. Max Verstappen (NED) Toro Rosso 1min31.720
6. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1min31.814
7. Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren 1min33.060
8. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren 1min33.129
9. Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India 1min33.370
10. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault 1min34.060
11. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams 1min34.550
12. Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams 1min34.679
13. Felipe Nasr (BRA) Sauber AG 1min34.796
14. Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault 1min35.477
15. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber AG 1min37.95
16. Pascal Wehrlein (GER) Marussia 1min40.401
17. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari 1min40.754
18. Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team 1min41.780
19. Rio Haryanto (INA) Marussia 1min43.372
20. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team 1min43.443
21. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
22. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Toro Rosso