Raikkonen tops opening practice in Melbourne

Formula One got back on-track for the start of the 2008 season in Albert Park, Melbourne, with the first practice session of the season. After the usual slow start, by the end of the session, Kimi Räikkönen had clocked the fastest time in his Ferrari, a 1m26.461s, almost half a second faster than his nearest rival.

It took half an hour for the first of the big guns to emerge, with Kimi Räikkönen braving the action after thirty minutes. He was soon followed by team-mate Massa, with the McLaren following suit before too long. At the beginning of the session, it was Toro Rosso's Sébastien Bourdais who got the ball rolling with a 1m35.239s after quarter of an hour. Team-mate Vettel and Toyota's Jarno Trulli also got their chances at the top of the timesheets.

Prior to a five-minute interruption, when Nelson Piquet spun his Renault, forcing the reg flags to emerge, Lewis Hamilton had clocked the fastest time, a 1m27.085s. It looked as though his time would go unbeaten until Kimi upped his pace towards the end of a run to clock two quick times, the first being a 1m26.823s, followed by a 1m23.461s. Hamilton's attempt at a response, as the track conditions improved to their optimum, could only come to within half a second, with his time of 1m26.948s.

Behind Lewis was Felipe Massa in third, who clocked a 1m26.958s right at the end of the session too. Heikki Kovalainen made sure it was an all Ferrari/McLaren top four as he clocked a 1m27.114s on his McLaren debut. Red Bull's Mark Webber was another late improver, clocking a 1m28.263s to demote former champion Alonso to sixth. The Spaniard, who clocked a 1m28.360s had several trips across the gravel in his R28.

Robert Kubica completed only 12 laps in the faster of the BMWs, with him not emerging from the pits until over an hour into the session. Team-mate Heidfeld however, was forced to park his F1.08 just after the hour mark, his time of 1m29.561s good enough for 16th by the end of the ninety minutes. Toyota team-mates Glock and Trulli finished eighth and 10th respectively on times of 1m28.913s and 1m29.014s, an impressive performance from the German on his first visit to the track.

Splitting the two was Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel (1m28.957s), with Jenson Button clocking the 11th quickest time (1m29.124s). Following him were Giancarlo Fisichella (1m29.230s), David Coulthard (1m29.301s), Toro Rosso rookie Sébastien Bourdais (1m29.363s), Rubens Barrichello (1m29.533s) and Heidfeld. Towards the back of the field, Adrian Sutil brought his Force India around in 1m30.155s, with Piquet doing to in 1m30.357s.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.461 25
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.948 Ã- 0.487 21
3. Massa Ferrari 1:26.958 Ã- 0.497 25
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.114 Ã- 0.653 19
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:28.263 Ã- 1.802 18
6. Alonso Renault 1:28.360 Ã- 1.899 22
7. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.579 Ã- 2.118 12
8. Glock Toyota 1:28.913 Ã- 2.452 16
9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.957 Ã- 2.496 22
10. Trulli Toyota 1:29.014 Ã- 2.553 23
11. Button Honda 1:29.124 Ã- 2.663 25
12. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:29.230 Ã- 2.769 24
13. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:29.301 Ã- 2.840 5
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.363 Ã- 2.902 32
15. Barrichello Honda 1:29.533 Ã- 3.072 17
16. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:29.561 Ã- 3.100 7
17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:30.155 Ã- 3.694 13
18. Piquet Renault 1:30.357 Ã- 3.896 21
19. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.048 Ã- 4.587 7
20. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.771 Ã- 5.310 7
21. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:35.053 Ã- 8.592 3
22. Rosberg Williams-Toyota No time 3

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