The Australian Grand Prix, held in Melbourne, is one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar. It's also one of the first races of the season and gives teams an opportunity to test their cars and drivers before heading into more intense competition later in the year.
The race will be contested by Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso--two very different drivers who have had wildly different careers so far.
Max Verstappen's Performance
Max Verstappen's performance was the highlight of the day, as he posted a fastest time of 1:24.818 to lead the way in FP1. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo took second place with a time of 1:25.744, while Fernando Alonso completed the top three with 1:26.153.
Verstappen also set the fastest lap time in FP2 with 1:23.908 on his final lap, which put him 0.038 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel and 0.095 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton at that point in practice sessions today (Friday).
Fernando Alonso's Performance
Alonso's performance was impressive. The Spaniard set the fastest time in FP2, with a lap time of 1:23.735 and a lead of 0.093 seconds over Verstappen. This means that Alonso is well-positioned to win his first race since 2013 if he can maintain this pace throughout qualifying and race day.
The Race Ahead
The weather conditions are expected to be dry and sunny, with temperatures in the mid-to-high 20s Celsius (low 80s Fahrenheit). There's a chance of rain on Sunday morning, but it should clear up by the time the race starts at 6:10 p.m. local time (7:10 a.m. ET).
Temperatures will drop into the low teens overnight, so teams will need to make sure their cars have enough heaters in them to keep their engines from freezing up during pit stops.* Potential strategies
There are three factors that could determine how this race plays out: fuel loads; tire wear; and strategy decisions by drivers and teams alike.* Fuel loads
We don't know exactly how much fuel each driver has put into his car yet because they haven't run long enough stints on either compound yet.* Tire wear
There's also no way of knowing how much rubber will be left on Pirelli's softest compound after Friday practice sessions ended early due to rain showers.* Strategy decisionsIt's impossible for anyone outside of an F1 team garage -- including commentators --