Vettel Leads Practice One in Australian Sun

Sebastian Vettel has launched the season as he hopes to remain, topping the first practice session of the 2013 season. Sporting a Felix Baumgartner inspired astronaut like helmet, he leapt to 1st place in an uncharacteristic early showing of pace.

He was just 0.078 clear of Felipe Massa who was indeed faster than his more experienced Spanish team-mate who was three-tenths shy of the Brazilian. In fourth was Lewis Hamilton taking his Mercedes out for the first time in a Grand Prix weekend to end the session 4th overall. Local boy Mark Webber kept up his tradition of 5th place in Melbourne while trumping Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen who took 6th in P1. Nico Rosberg was seventh in the session ahead of Force India’s Adrian Sutil in 8th, McLaren’s Jenson Button in 9th and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in 10th.

Sergio Perez was 11th on his McLaren debut ahead of his Sauber replacement of Nico Hulkenberg who took 12th and beat Force India’s Paul di Resta in 13th. Pastor Maldonado led the Williams duo, grabbing 15th ahead of his Finnish rookie team-mate, Valtteri Bottas in 16th. Esteban Gutierrez was a four places back on his team-mate but kept himself clear of the Toro Rosso duo who lined up 17th and 18th for Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo repectively.

Jules Bianchi, unsurprisingly, was the fastest of the backmarkers and helped Marussia finish with both cars clear of their green rivals with both teams now running KERS. Despite being in the same team, Bianchi was almost a second clear of Briton Max Chilton. Right at the back was Frenchman Charles Pic who made the move from Marussia last year, heading up his new Dutch team-mate Giedo van der Garde who finished his first practice session at the team in dead last – 22nd.

The session itself was relatively uneventful. Teams were quick to get a car out on track and it wasn’t until 35 minutes in that Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo set the first timed lap of 2013, a 1.54.048 and soon knocking it down into the normal low 1.30’s. There was not much action out on track excluding the last 15 minutes. Felipe Massa got it wrong coming into T5 and slid into the grass for a detour while Paul di Resta had a massive slide into the gravel trap in T6 with 2 minutes left on the clock, the Scot avoiding being beached and crawling back to the pits.

As for the stewards, Valtteri Bottas was dragged to the stewards as he was speeding in the pitlane, but this will amount to no more than a fine and should not affect his placement on Sunday’s grid.

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Felipe Massa
  3. Fernando Alonso
  4. Lewis Hamilton
  5. Mark Webber
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Nico Rosberg
  8. Adrian Sutil
  9. Jenson Button
  10. Romain Grosjean
  11. Sergio Perez
  12. Nico Hulkenberg
  13. Paul di Resta
  14. Pastor Maldonado
  15. Valtteri Bottas
  16. Esteban Gutierrez
  17. Jean-Eric Vergne
  18. Daniel Ricciardo
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Max Chilton
  21. Charles Pic
  22. Giedo van der Garde
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