Vettel pips Massa in first practice session

2013 Australian Grand Prix first practicePosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2013Sebastian Vettel began his championship defence by leading the first practice session of 2013 – but Ferrari weren’t far behind.

After the first 90 minutes of practice for the Australian Grand Prix Felipe Massa was just 0.078s slower than the Red Bull driver, with team mate Fernando Alonso third.

Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest on his first appearance for Mercedes.

The first half-hour of the session saw little running as the drivers preferred to keep an eye on track conditions and wait for their rivals to make a move. Toro Rosso blinked first, sending Daniel Ricciardo out for a run. His team mate soon joined him followed by the Caterhams and Marussias.

Kimi Raikkonen was among the first of the front-runners to do a stint, lowering the best to a 1’27.877.

The Mercedes pair got close to the time but Fernando Alonso was the first to beat it, improving on the Lotus’s mark by two tenths of a second.

That left Vettel as the only driver yet to set a time. With half an hour to go he duly took the top spot off the Ferrari, despite running wide at turn six.

Felipe Massa briefly reclaimed the top time but Vettel took it back with his next effort. Now it was Massa’s turn to make an error at turn four, after which he made no further gains.

In the latter stages of the session several drivers were clearly struggling for grip. Mark Webber reported his tyres were gone towards the end of the session and Ricciardo was having trouble with tyre vibrations.

Giedo van der Garde ran wide at turn one and more than one driver got onto the dirt at the exit of turn five. Jules Bianchi out-braked himself at turn three.

With two minutes to go Paul di Resta spun off at turn six but managed to extract his Force India from the gravel trap and get back on the track.

Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’27.211 16
2 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’27.289 0.078 17
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’27.547 0.336 16
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’27.552 0.341 18
5 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’27.668 0.457 18
6 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’27.877 0.666 17
7 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’28.013 0.802 17
8 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’28.426 1.215 19
9 5 Jenson Button McLaren 1’28.440 1.229 19
10 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’28.520 1.309 15
11 6 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’28.597 1.386 19
12 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’28.786 1.575 19
13 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’28.910 1.699 18
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’29.443 2.232 20
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’29.928 2.717 19
16 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’30.203 2.992 17
17 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’30.729 3.518 17
18 19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’30.969 3.758 19
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’31.263 4.052 24
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’32.176 4.965 23
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’32.274 5.063 21
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’32.388 5.177 18

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62 comments on “Vettel pips Massa in first practice session”

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  1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
    15th March 2013, 3:11

    Obviously, the top three drivers there are signs for what’s next. Hamilton, as expected, is in the top 6 but not in the top 3. Clearly, Ferrari have got excellent pace this year. So I think we Alonso fans are gonna be pretty excited. Also, I am very surprised about the McLaren times – 9th and 11th isn’t what was expected. But maybe they were carrying more fuel or trying out something in the car, doing som R&D, who knows?

    1. lol yes us Ham fan’s are happy two no time to split between Ham and Alo , 5 tenths clear of Nico.

    2. Top 6 but not in the top 3 – you are joking right? Alonso pipped him by .005 seconds. The difference is about 1.5 blinks of an eye across a whole lap. That means the Massa fans have a huge amount to be delirious about since he beat Alonso by over a quarter of a second. Extrapolating using your standard, Alonso was thoroughly and resoundingly thrashed by Massa.

      1. so true dude he was saying here merc would be nowhere after testing and now he is saying their genuinely fast lol.

      2. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
        15th March 2013, 4:00

        @luvinf1 : Yes, and this was first practice! The Merc is fast but it is very doubtful if Hamilton will be beating Alonso this season.

    3. Hard to tell though, McLaren often did a bit of a different program form other, leaving the faster laps to further sessions, they could be in that top 6 on speed too.

  2. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
    15th March 2013, 3:11

    Red Bull were hiding something in testing. Ferrari and Mercedes are genuinely quick, McLaren loses some tenths, and Lotus (read: Raikkonen) is able to score a good time in relatively green track.

    1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
      15th March 2013, 3:15

      @adityafakhri : RBR were hiding nothing. Why is it always the assumption that RBR are hiding their true pace and all? Yes, they are a bit secretive, but why would anyone hide pace in practice?

      1. Pretty obvious Vet will be quicker he didn’t string all his best sectors together , I thought we were gonna see the super human , Olympic trainer Alo be faster than massa but massa has raised his game , Alo needs go train lol.

        1. Haha your logic is so bad XD

          Its the first FP1 of the year. Massa going a few tenths faster means about as much as a Torro Rosso setting the fastest lap in the first few minutes of the session.

      2. “Red Bull were hiding something in testing.”
        ” but why would anyone hide pace in practice?”

        They weren’t. They were hiding something in testing. You know, the last months? Not today?

        1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
          15th March 2013, 3:25

          @adityafakhri and @neiana : Oops, sorry guys, I misread that. Just realised he wrote “testing” and not “practice”. But anyway, this year’s testing was absolutely inconclusive.

          1. I’ve had things happen to me where I read something and it’s completely not what is written. That’s when I know it’s time to take a break and go outside for a few minutes :D

          2. @neiana

            That’s when I know it’s time to take a break and go outside for a few minutes.

            That’s a great advice, especially at 4:30 AM while it’s snowing outside and temperature is below zero. :)
            Although, it would definitely clear your head. :)

  3. I’m interested to see if (a) Mercedes are genuinely as quick as they appear to be and (b) are McLaren struggling?

    Great to have F1 back properly! No more looking at tea leaves trying to figure out who is fastest! Vettel looked very impressive through turns 11 and 12. Ominously so.

    1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
      15th March 2013, 3:18

      @collosal-squid :
      a) Yes, I think Mercedes are genuinely fast.
      b) That is a tough question. There are two possibilities – they could have been actually struggling or maybe tryin out something new with their car – or braking R&D maybe?

      1. Yeah you could be right, maybe McLaren weren’t pushing too hard and carrying out a schedule that would lead to those times. I would be very, very surprised to see them towards the lower half of the top 10 come qualifying.

        As for Merc, unless they’ve done an incredible job over the winter (and all credit to them if they have) I still think they may be flattering to deceive as of now.

      2. Whatever MacLaren were trying, they should not be 1.2 seconds behind Red Bull. That simply is unacceptable.

        1. How was Red Bull hiding their pace in practice, when literally every insider considered them the favorite?

        2. If they’re a second off come qualifying then yes that’s unacceptable, but as we don’t know fuel loads or what kind of testing program they were running in FP1 then I think saying it’s unacceptable as of now is a bit premature.

        3. Fuel could easily account for 1.2 seconds per lap. Watching them go around, it did not look like they were running on low fuel.

    2. The only reasonable answer to “Are Mclaren struggling?” is we’ll have to wait and see, but Craig Scarborough seems to think Mclaren are playing it safe based on images of the front end of the car at Melbourne:

  4. I know it’s FP1 and all, but the Red Bull looks quick. Vettel didn’t even try. I think it’s Red Bull, then Ferrari. Lotus seems to be reasonably quick, too. Not much to say on the McLaren. Both Hamilton and Rosberg seem to have tried quite a bit.

  5. Im in no way claiming Massa will beat Alo over the season based on fp1 but he was nowhere near Alo last year , so things looking good for Felipe. Lewis Hamilton nearly 5 tenths clear of Nico great start considering Ham is the new guy , and wow Macca no one with natural speed to tell us where the car is but not looking good lol and Perez only 1 tenth away from Button lol , im so glad for Whitmarsh he deserves it .

    Come on Hamilton.

    1. Well my thoughts exactly about MacLaren, but I am not going to abandon them coz I have supported them for so long since the days of Kimi and all those break-downs. It’s like like switching to support Spain because they have Xabi and we have Downing.

    2. Keep in mind Massa is generally good on the first and last few tracks on the calendar. Its the middle group of tracks where he (unfailingly) seems to struggle.

      Every year the same trend occurs, and even year people make the same comments about how Massa has returned to form etc. Memory like goldfish :P

      If he has figured out how to drive the middle group of tracks as quick as his team mate, then I’d be more inclined to believe he has a chance. Maybe with an improved simulator he could do that.

  6. Very interesting. Love how the Marussia’s, especially Bianchi have overtaken the Caterham at the moment, and Bianchi being very close to the Toro Rosso’s! Can’t wait for FP2!

  7. STR is way behind! and Jules Bianchi seems to be the best at the back..he’ll only improve further :D

  8. Blast that Hamilton fella, he took all the pace with him to Mercedes! Blast I say.

    1. so true if MSC was here we’d be looking at Rosberg 6th and MSC 10th – 12th , Ham brings genuine pace

      1. You do remember that they won a race last year and Schumacher scored a pole in Monaco?

      2. You seem to have pretty short memory. Schumacher started 4th in Melbourne last year and not 10th- 12th as you claim to.

    2. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
      15th March 2013, 4:08

      @blackmamba : Hahaha, can’t stop laughing – you found a really funny way to explain Merc’s improvement.

  9. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
    15th March 2013, 3:22

    @forcef1 : Yeah, STR are a dissapointment. But then, they always have been, to me atleast. Yeah, Bianchi’s quick, I still think he should have had the Force India seat. Also, you must have noticed that the Marussia is faster than Caterham.

    1. yeah..Marussia and Bianchi seem lyk a good combo for Caterham

      I still dont mind Sutil..can’t say about others but i still think Sutil has genuine pace..he’ll beat Di Resta this year, howsoever well prepared Di Resta maybe! and so, if Sutil does well, I am ok with Bianchi being there..nobody knows the exact reason behind the decision really..FI said its a good decision..that’s it

  10. Given Red Bull usually show less of their pace on Fridays, Vettel leading the times is an ominous sign for their rivals, even if it isn’t by much.

    Mercedes appear to be in the hunt too but perhaps McLaren were right to downplay expectations for their first race with the MP4-28.

    Not much from Williams but as we know they tend to run on the heavy side in practice.

    Gutierrez was 1.5s off Hulkenberg, the biggest gap between two team mates, had an off and held up Raikkonen early in the session. Welcome to big boy school Esteban…

    Marussia a second faster than Caterham? If the difference between them in this session was fuel that’s around ten laps’ worth so I’d say it looks good for them at the moment. It looks like Q1 will be about those teams plus Toro Rosso.

    Looks like the team will be glad they bagged Bianci. Chilton was having trouble getting used to the brakes, winding the bias forward to get rid of rear locking, and said he still had a lot of time to find at the end of the session.

    Despite concerns over how well the tyres would last the 22 cars in this session covered more laps than the 24 in the same session last year: 406 compared to 368, though HRT only managed three in 2012. Let’s see how they get on with the super-softs in second practice.

    1. Guccio (@concalvez00)
      15th March 2013, 3:38

      Keith, McLaren should not be that far behind. But let’t wait and how FP2 goes

    2. Keith,

      As you are an expert on these matters, you probably don’t need anyone to back you up, but I agree with your comment completely. As you mentioned it’s not like red bull to start fast on a Friday so I think Vettel is going to dominate this season.

      Maybe if Hamilton and Lowe had stayed at Mclaren they could have beaten Vettel but at this (admittedly early) stage of the season, i’m predicting Vettel to destroy the competition. If the Renault engine is good in 2015 then Vettel will win that as well.

      I’m not a Vettel fan but as long as the racing remains as good as it was in 2012 I’ll carry on watching even if Vettel wins 10 titles on the trot

      1. Thanks very much :-)

    3. @keithcollantine could it be that having not had a low fuel run during testing, Red Bull decided to go against their usual practice and did one in FP1? Which would mean that they’ll still be very fast in Q3 but not by a huge margin. Lets wait and see.

  11. After a year off sutil looks pretty sharp Di resta already looked like he is under a bit of pressure he tries a different line and spun off. To early to predict but looking at red bulls pace I am afraid but it looks very likely that it may be another pole to finish race from vettel ,hope it get wrong on this one

    1. I agree. Glad somebody noticed.

  12. KDesser (@)
    15th March 2013, 3:28

    Great, we are go, finally!
    Sauber & Williams are a bit further back than I thought and respects to Adrian Sutil – did a great job must say…
    Nice prospects so far :)

    1. Williams would have been trying new parts..maybe analysis meant no quick laps?

  13. From preseason testing and Vettel setting the fastest time in P1 quite effortlessly I think he’ll get the win and probably a 4th championship..

    I predict pole to be about 1:25:4

    The only bets Iv got placed for this first race are for the safety car. With so many new drivers i expect it will come out and it better be deployed else I’ll b out £1000 and p**Ed off!!

  14. The top 4 is the exact same as the Bahrain 2010 grid.

    1. Let’s hope it’s just like 2010 with Hamilton coming out on top

      1. As far as I remember, Alonso won with Massa sacond.

        1. I meant the season 2010 was mega

  15. Pressure to impress at new line ups across most of the paddock, mixed with warmish conditions lead to what i thought was a pretty aggressive FP1 – great start to the year. Healthy dose of excited viewer too of course!

    1. I made the same observation – plenty of drivers seemed really bullish out on track this morning, especially those with new teammates this year.

  16. Abdurahman (@)
    15th March 2013, 4:01

    What was the weather like?

    1. Shreyas Mohanty (@)
      15th March 2013, 4:10

      29 C track temperature, and some morning sun, 5 m/s wind.

      1. I have heard that there is 20% chance of rain on the raceday

        1. I’m sure sky said it was 60% for Quali and Race. May be mistaken about the race though. Should make it interesting though :)

  17. First off I’d just like to say a massive “THANK YOU” to Keith and all contributors on this site for all your efforts in delivering inimitable coverage, discussion and debate in the off season.

    It’s somewhat ominous for the season ahead that Vettel has posted the fastest time in the first practice session of the year after Red Bull were conspicuously underwhelming in testing. Nonetheless I’m excited about the competitiveness of the field this year in terms of ultimate pace, which at first glance appears to be an even closer affair than last year.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw drivers being so aggressive out on track in the first free practice session of the year. Did anyone else make this observation? Hamilton, Rosberg, Perez and Button all seemed particularly bullish out on track, perhaps with an incentive to lay down an early benchmark for their new stablemates.

    The biggest source of interest for me this year will probably be the teammate battles between Hamilton/Rosberg and Button/Perez. Even though it’s only the first practice session of the year, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to most that Hamilton and Button both set faster laps than their teammates.

    I expect Hamilton and Button to both dispose of their respective teammates in highly convincing fashion this year. If neither achieves this I’ll have to completely reconsider my opinions of drivers throughout the grid. This is because I believe that the drivers who are accustomed to delivering results in the most competitive and high pressure environment at the front of the grid are a class above the rest at the moment. This list naturally includes the five world champions but also Webber and Massa.

    Williams are an enigma at the moment but also the “dark horse” for this season in my opinion. I strongly suspect that their car has race winning potential this year although I don’t have even a shred of evidence to support this claim.

    Bianchi impressed me during his first outing for Marussia early on in the session. He was straight onto the pace of Ricciardo and Vergne, even splitting them at one point on the timing boards and he was clearly testing the limits out on track. Chilton’s first outing was the antithesis of Bianchi’s although I suspect he will come good in time and will almost certainly be far more consistent than Bianchi over the course of the season. The question remains; can Chilton’s cool head win out over Bianchi’s ruthless pace and aggression?

  18. RedBull Domination again…. how shocking..

  19. Noticed they ditched the Red on the 1st driver T-Bar… See they can save money in F1 just think of the $250 the series will save not having to buy a roll of the Red vinyl haha.

  20. Guys this is basically another testing session, don’t read too much into it, you just make yourself look stupid.

    Remember there is a race to come, even the fastest car might not win it.

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