Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in FP1 and FP2 at the 2017 season opening Australian Grand Prix Getty

New Rules for 2017, they said. It will help teams make up ground on Mercedes, they said. Ferrari look the best after testing, they said. Lewis Hamilton however, was apparently not aware of the statements as he turned up with the fastest times in both the practice sessions at the opening race in Albert Park, with his FP2 time over half a second faster than the next best.

Unless the Italian team, who looked strong after the pre-season tests, are hiding their true speed, it looks like it will be Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes' race to lose. The Briton was in a league of his own in the second session with no car including his teammates unable to match him both on single lap and race pace.

Evidence suggests that Red Bull are a touch behind Mercedes and Ferrari and will be the third fastest team in Australia. However the former world champions are known to turn up with a faster car when it matters during qualifying and the race.

The new-era Formula One cars are clearly a big step-up from their predecessors and it was proved in the first hour of testing when lap times tumbled. Hamilton's fastest time in FP 2 is already two- tenths faster than his pole position time from last season.

Rookie Lance Stroll was the first driver in his Williams to set a timed lap in 2017, while Joylon Palmer brought about the first red flag of the season when he lost the rear-end of his car and went into the barriers in the final turn of the circuit.

Max Verstappen was unable to go on his race simulation runs after damaging the floor on his car following a run off the track. Felipe Massa's session also ended early after the veteran driver suffered gearbox issues with his car.

Where to watch live

The third free practice begins at 3am GMT, while the qualifying session starts at 5am GMT. Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports F1 HD will provide live coverage of both events in the UK.

Real-time internet updates are available on the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.

Top 10 results of the second practice session from Albert Park, Australia:

2SEBASTIAN VETTEL1:24.167+0.547s
3VALTTERI BOTTAS1:24.176+0.556s
4KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN1:24.525+0.905s
5DANIEL RICCIARDO1:24.650+1.030s
6MAX VERSTAPPEN1:25.013+1.393s
7CARLOS SAINZ1:25.084+1.464s
8ROMAIN GROSJEAN1:25.436+1.816s
9NICO HULKENBERG1:25.478+1.858s
10DANIIL KVYAT1:25.493+1.873s