Vettel pips Massa in first practice session

2013 Australian Grand Prix first practice

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

2013 Australian Grand Prix

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62 comments on Vettel pips Massa in first practice session

  1. Abdurahman (@) said on 15th March 2013, 4:01

    What was the weather like?

  2. panache (@panache) said on 15th March 2013, 4:22

    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?

  3. M30 said on 15th March 2013, 4:42

    RedBull Domination again…. how shocking..

  4. Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 15th March 2013, 5:02

    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.

  5. James (@jaymz) said on 15th March 2013, 5:45

    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.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th March 2013, 7:01

    Crazy how many of you are making assumptions already…

    New guys seem to perform relative to their team mates do that’s reassuring.

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