Vettel tops opening practice in Melbourne

It's an ominous sign whenever Sebastian Vettel is fastest in opening practice

The 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship finally got underway under sunny skies and in decent track temperatures in Albert Park on Friday afternoon, as FP1 in Australia threw up few major surprises.

Sebastian Vettel set the pace for Red Bull – perhaps as expected – but was only 0.078s ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa as team mate Fernando Alonso, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen gave chase.

There was relatively little action for the first 45 minutes as everyone opted to save rubber, and when the times did come they were all set on Pirelli’s medium tires.

Vettel ended the session on 1m 27.211s, but Massa was very close on 1m 27.289s before things petered out towards the end after Williams' Pastor Maldonado and Marussia's Jules Bianchi had thrown gravel on to the track at Turn 6. Massa later had a big moment there trying to go quicker, and Paul di Resta half-spun his Force India on the resultant marbles.

Alonso had set the pace for a while, but was unable to improve on 1m 27.547s which left him third just ahead of a happy Hamilton on 1m 27.552s for Mercedes. Webber was fifth on 1m 27.668s, while Raikkonen, another early pacesetter for Lotus, had to be content with 1m 27.877s.

Nico Rosberg couldn’t quite join the front group with 1m 28.013s in the second Mercedes, while Adrian Sutil was perhaps the one big surprise with eighth fastest for Force India ahead of the McLarens and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.

The German lapped in 1m 28.426s to pip Jenson’s Button’s 1m 28.440s, and the Englishman was separated from new McLaren team mate Sergio Perez on 1m 28.597s by the Frenchman’s 1m 28.520s.

Nico Hulkenberg chased them with 1m 28.786s for Sauber, with Di Resta behind him on 1m 28.910s.

Maldonado was half a second quicker than Williams partner Valtteri Bottas, with 1m 29.443s to 1m 29.928s.

Then came Esteban Gutierrez on 1m 30.203s for Sauber; the Mexican rookie had problems which kept him in the pits late in the session.

The Toro Rossos set the early pace, but Jean-Eric Vergne improved only marginally to 1m 30.729s for 17th and Daniel Ricciardo stayed where he was on 1m 30.969s.

Behind them, Marussia got the better of Caterham with Bianchi a second clear of the green and yellow cars in 1m 31.263s and Max Chilton improving to 20th near the end to beat them with 1m 32.176s. Charles Pic improved too, to 1m 32.274s, leaving Dutch rookie Giedo van der Garde last on 1m 32.388s.


Pos Driver Team/Car Time Behind Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.211s +0.000s 16
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.289s +0.078s 17
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.547s +0.336s 16
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.552s +0.341s 18
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.668s +0.457s 18
6. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1m27.877s +0.666s 17
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.013s +0.802s 17
8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m28.426s +1.215s 19
9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.440s +1.229s 19
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m28.520s +1.309s 15
11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.597s +1.386s 19
12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.786s +1.575s 19
13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.910s +1.699s 18
14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m29.443s +2.232s 20
15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.928s +2.717s 19
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.203s +2.992s 17
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.729s +3.518s 17
18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.969s +3.758s 19
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.263s +4.052s 24
20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.176s +4.965s 23
21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m32.274s +5.063s 21
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m32.388s +5.177s 18

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