Australian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Some Run, Some Don't

The first practice session of the 2014 season looked just like winter testing in that some cars were able to run – a number of drivers did more than 20 laps – while others suffered various woes.

Fastest of the runners was who clocked a 1:31.840 in his Ferrari.

At the end of FP1 here last year Sebastian Vettel was fastest overall with a lap of 1:27.211 in his Red Bull.

Meanwhile, the Lotus cars of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado did not turn a single lap until Maldonado got out with just 12 minutes remaining in the 90 minute session. And others, such as Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Caterham teammates Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson and Jules Bianchi (Marussia) barely managed a lap or two.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso as the first driver out on the 16-turn 3.295-mile (5.303 km) Albert Park circuit as the 2014 season officially got underway.

The ambient temperature at the start of the session was 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Centigrade.)

Adrian Sutil (Sauber) and Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) were the next out on track.

Mercedes teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were the first to try practice starts as they took to the track.

Just five minutes into the session Hamilton's Mercedes stopped at Turn 9. That was surprising because the Mercedes cars were the most reliable in preseason testing. It turned out to be a minor problem as a low oil pressure sensor triggered a precautionary engine shut down.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel watched from the pit wall as the Red Bull crew was still working on his car.

10 minutes into the session, all the cars were in the pits except for Hamilton's stranded Mercedes. A couple of drivers had turned two installation laps, most had done one, and some – Vettel, Max Chilton (Marussia) and Lotus teammates Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado – had done none.

15 minutes into the session, Daniel Ricciardo set the first lap time of the session – a 1:37.290 – in his Red Bull. Magnussen posted the second lap time of the season – 1:37.762. Ricciardo improved to a 1:35.043 and then a 1:34.600.

20 minutes into the session, Hamilton walked back into the paddock. A security man tried to stop him coming through the turnstile because he did not have the correct credential or any credential for that matter.

24 minutes into the session, Rosberg put his Mercedes to the top of the times with a 1:32.604, which beat the 1:33.127 that Alonso had just posted.

26 minutes into the session, Sergio Perez did a half spin but regained control of his Force India. Alonso then went quicker with a time of 1:32.588. The first spin of the season.

30 minutes into the session, Vettel was still in the pits while his teammate Ricciardo had racked up 11 laps which was more than any driver had done at that point. All the drivers and cars were again in the pits.

35 minutes into the session, Jenson Button did a practice start as he left the pits in his McLaren. He soon posted the third best time.

Just before the midpoint of the session Button set a 1:32.357 to claim the best time so far.

Midway through FP1 the top six were: Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India.)

Caterham teammates Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi were both in the pits as their cars had problems on the installation laps.

With 39 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel drove out of the Red Bull garage. He did one install lap and went back to the garage.

With 32 minutes remaining in the session, Felipe Massa moved his Williams into second with a lap of 1:32.431. Then Alonso turned a 1:31.840 to go to the top of the times.

At the one hour mark, the top six were: Alonso, Button, Massa, Ricciardo, Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas (Williams.)

Vettel was finally able to get some consecutive laps and moved into eighth place with a time of 1:32.974.

Meanwhile Bottas has improved to fourth place.

With 12 minutes remaining in the session, Maldonado managed to do an install lap. He then headed out for another lap only to briefly slide off the track.

Quite a few drivers were lapping in the final 10 minutes but nobody beat Alonso's time.

With 4 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel did a 1:32.793 – seventh best.

The top six at the end of FP1 were: Alonso, Button, Bottas Massa, Ricciardo and Rosberg.


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