Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton put in the fastest time in practice for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix as the new went in to a race weekend for the first time.

Hamilton is looking to regain the world championship and signalled his intent at the first attempt, finishing 0.547 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was just nine hundredths behind the German and has some way to go to match the Briton’s pace.

Kimi Raikkonen completed the Mercedes-Ferrari top four as expected, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth.

With their new revamped livery, Toro Rosso were receiving plaudits and it’s interesting to note that Carlos Sainz was only 0.071 seconds behind Verstappen in practice two.

There were plenty of off-the-track dramas as well, as Jolyon Palmer lost the rear end of his Renault at the final corner before ploughing into the wall and bringing out a red flag.

Verstappen also had a brush with the grass as he ran wide at turn 12 but steered clear of the barriers.

Felipe Massa and Kevin Magnussen had technical trouble with their cars and Marcus Ericsson’s session was ended early when he oversteered at turn six.