Scuderia Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen was only fourth-fastest in the second practice session ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne – the first race of the 2018 Formula 1 season. But with less than 0.3 seconds separating him from pack leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes-AMG, it looks like Ferrari could give race favorite Mercedes a decent fight for the win.
Max Verstappen of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing ran even closer behind 2017 F1 Championship winner Lewis Hamilton, putting in a fast lap just 0.127 seconds down from the Merc driver’s 1:23.931. He split the dominant Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, putting in the second-fastest lap of the practice session.
Räikkönen’s teammate on the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team, Sebastian Vettel, came in more than half-a-second behind Hamilton with his fastest lap of the practice session. The time was enough to put him in fifth, but the gap between him and Kimi Räikkönen was nearly as big as the split between Räikkönen and Hamilton.
Speaking to reporters afterward, though, Vettel seemed unconcerned with the difference in performance.
“We still have quite a lot of performance in hand,” Vettel said, according to Reuters. “I am not too worried because I know if I get everything right we should be in better shape.”
The 2018 Australian Grand Prix will be run this Sunday, March 25th, at 1:10 AM ET. The race will mark the debut of the newly-minted Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, although if you were hoping they’d be competitive in their first race, you might be disappointed; drivers Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc came in 19th and 20th, respectively, during this week’s second practice session.