Just when it seemed as though five-time world champions Mercedes had been caught off balance, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas laid down a statement of intent on Friday in Australia.

Reigning drivers’ champion Hamilton opened his 2019 season by topping both the FP1 and FP2 timesheet, matching his feat from 12 months ago.

However, what was more impressive was the margin by which Hamilton and team-mate Bottas occupied the top two spots on the FP2 timesheet, with next nearest challenger Max Verstappen a full 0.8s adrift.

Mercedes Friday dominance has followed a pre-season in which the team appeared to be struggling to come to terms with Formula 1’s new regulations for 2019 – wider front-wings and less complex bargeboards are among a number of changes introduced to theoretically allow for closer racing.

Trialling two radically different concepts during testing, Mercedes failed to make an impression at the top of the timesheets, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel lauded an “unbelievable” start to testing as a compliant SF90 launched Ferrari into the position of pre-season favourites.

Fifth and ninth place on the FP2 timesheet for Ferrari served as a curveball and left those in the paddock pondering who is deploying sandbags and who might have let already let them go.

Here’s five things we learned on Friday ahead of the Australian Grand Prix;