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All the speculation from the pre-season can at last be put to bed, as it is time for the Formula 1 cars to hit the track in anger for the first time at Albert Park, for the first practice session of the 2019 championship at the Australian Grand Prix. Join The Roar for live updates and commentary from 12pm (AEDT).
While Practice 1 may not deliver a definitive form guide for the weekend ahead, it does offer an idea as to who’s confident and who’s not – particularly given this is the opening round of a new championship season.
Ninety minutes are afforded to all the drivers and teams to begin dialling in their cars for the 5.8-kilometre circuit, giving them the opportunity to get their first feeling of the new Pirelli tyres in warmer conditions.
A further 90-minute session will be conducted at 4pm, before a final hour’s practice on Saturday ahead of the three-stage qualifying to determine pole position.
In 2019, Pirelli have simplified the way that the tyres are presented, in that on every weekend there is only a hard, medium and soft compound – represented by white, yellow and red markings.
It is a turn from the more colourful selection that was in use for the last few years, as well as an expanded selection ranging from the hard compound to the hypersoft. Each compound will change from race to race, depending on the surfaces, however they’ll only be represented by the three titles.
Practice 1 is also the first opportunity outside of testing for the new team and driver combinations to be seen on-track and there will be extra attention on the Renault squad, to see how Aussie Daniel Ricciardo fares in his first session for the French team.
Charles Leclerc’s debut for Ferrari will also be eagerly anticipated, given that he is the youngest driver since 1961 to race for the Scuderia and only in his sophomore season too.
As well as Robert Kubica, who makes his return to Formula One eight years after that horrific rallying accident which almost ended his racing career and life. The popular Pole will be racing for Williams, who themselves will be under scrutiny this weekend after a disastrous pre-season.
A top of 23 degrees is forecast for today in Melbourne, meaning it won’t be as hot as expected for qualifying and the race. Starting at midday, the first practice session will hardly be representative of those sessions, which are much later in the afternoon.
Tune in on The Roar from 12pm (AEDT) for the opening practice session of the new Formula 1 season, with live blog coverage for all three practices, qualifying and the 58-lap Australian Grand Prix.