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Prac One: Vettel edges Ferrari

Friday 15th March 2013

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Prac One: Vettel edges Ferrari

Prac One: Vettel edges Ferrari

Reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel picked up where he left off as he beat Ferrari to claim the season's first P1 in Australia.

The German clocked a 1:27.211 to edge Felipe Massa by 0.078s while Fernando Alonso was third ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

It was a slow start to the season's first practice session as the drivers waited over half an hour before anyone posted a lap time, that first time of the year belonged to Daniel Ricciardo on his home track.

The Toro Rosso driver got proceedings underway with a 1:36.089. Ricciardo's lap prompted others to venture out, however, it was the Aussie who had the early impetus, lowering the P1 time lap after lap.

Halfway through the session the top five were Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton and Charles Pic. They were also the only five to have set times.

As more drivers took the track the lap times tumbled while Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the big boys out and quickly up to first place by almost two seconds over Vergne. The Lotus driver continued putting in the laps and dropped the benchmark to a 1:27.877.

Nico Hulkenberg took second before he was dropped by Mark Webber who in turn lost out to Nico Rosberg and then Adrian Sutil before Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes up into second place behind Raikkonen.

However, it was all change as Fernando Alonso headed out as the Spaniard immediately jumped to the front with a 1:27.547. Hamilton returned to second, two-tenths behind Alonso.

Vettel hit the front and was leading the way with 20 minutes to go, 0.078s up on Felipe Massa while Alonso was third ahead of Hamilton, Webber and Raikkonen.

Pushing hard in the final minutes several drivers had moments with Pastor Maldonado and Massa kicking up some serious dirt. They, though, were not the only ones doing it.

The final few minutes, with the tyres well past their prime, saw few changes to the timesheet and the first almost accident of the season as Paul di Resta lost the back end of his Force India and went into a major slide into the gravel. He not only avoided the barriers but also kept the engine running and returned to the pits.

The chequered flag fell with Vettel in the P1 slot ahead of Massa and Alonso while the top seven were separated by less than a second.

The drivers, though, stayed out for one more lap as the FIA scheduled a Safety Car procedure test.

Times
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:27.211 16 laps
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:27.289 +.078 17 laps
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:27.547 +0.336 16 laps
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.552 +0.341 18 laps
5 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:27.668 +0.457 18 laps
6 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:27.877 +0.666 17 laps
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.013 +0.802 17 laps
8 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:28.426 +1.215 19 laps
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.440 +1.229 19 laps
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:28.520 +1.309 15 laps
11 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:28.597 +1.386 19 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:28.786 +1.575 19 laps
13 Paul di Resta Force India 1:28.910 +1.699 18 laps
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:29.443 +2.232 20 laps
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.928 +2.717 9 laps
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:30.203 +2.992 12 laps
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:30.947 +3.736 8 laps
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:30.969 +3.758 10 laps
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:31.263 +4.052 13 laps
20 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:32.388 +5.177 8 laps
21 Charles Pic Caterham 1:32.682 +5.471 10 laps
22 Max Chilton Marussia 1:32.794 +5.583 14 laps

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