Lewis Hamilton says he is “massively excited” by his Mercedes’ performance in Melbourne – although he also admitted the feeling was spoiled when he ended the second session in the gravel after a part broke on his car.
Team-mate Nico Rosberg was third fastest behind the Red Bulls in second practice while Hamilton was fourth in the first session.
Hamilton said: “The real positive thing is the car is competitive. I can’t believe it. The guys have done an incredible job. I’m massively excited to be up there.
“We’ve made this big step,” he said. “People were talking it down, people were talking it up, but to be as competitive as we are is a real buzz.
“The Red Bulls are obviously very quick, the Ferraris are massively competitive, and I think also the Lotus,” he said.
“I’m not sure what’s happening with the McLaren but I’m sure they’ll fix it because they’re just a fantastic team. We’re just going to take it one step at a time.”
Hamilton had started brightly at Albert Park and finished fourth quickest in the first session but faced the lonely walk back to the paddock after his crash just seven minutes from the end of the second.
He slid into the gravel trap at turn six after the ‘bib’ – the front part of the floor of his car – came loose, he said: “I was braking for turn six, I turned in and the car just didn’t turn. I thought to myself: ‘What an idiot!’ But when I got back they explained that the front of the bib was broken and was up against the chassis. Thankfully nothing is really damaged.”