Formula One: Hamilton, Rosberg set pace for Mercedes

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain powers through a corner during the second practice session of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, on March 14, 2014. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg showed that Mercedes could be the team to b
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain powers through a corner during the second practice session of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, on March 14, 2014. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg showed that Mercedes could be the team to beat at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when they impressively topped the time sheets in practice on Friday. -- PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg showed that Mercedes could be the team to beat at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when they impressively topped the time sheets in practice on Friday.

With teams adapting to a raft of technical changes in Formula One, Hamilton overcame mechanical problems in the first session to time quickest in the second run-out ahead of his team-mate.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was third fastest, while four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, who endured severe problems in pre-season testing, placed an encouraging fourth.

"I'm satisfied with P2 (second practice). P1 I obviously didn't get anywhere," said Hamilton, the 2008 world champion.

Hamilton and Rosberg have been tipped to fight it out in Sunday's race, given Mercedes' superior pre-season testing and adjustment to the technical changes, which also include a fuel limit.

Hamilton put in a scorching lap on soft tyres to post a best time of 1min 29.625sec, 0.157sec ahead of German team-mate Rosberg (1:29.782).

The Mercedes duo were the only drivers to go below 1:30, demonstrating an early edge over the rest of the field ahead of Saturday's qualifying for grid positions.

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