Fernando Alonso’s 2014 season got off to the perfect start as he set the pace in Friday’s opening practice in Melbourne while others struggled.
Putting in the laps in his F14T, the double World Champion posted a 1:31.840 to edge McLaren’s Jenson Button by half a second.
Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were next in line ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Having the better of the running at the reigning World Champions, the Australian driver completed 26 laps with a best time of 1:32.599.
It was a marked contrast to Sebastian Vettel’s fortunes as the German sat out the first half of the session and only just managed to reach double figures as he covered 10 laps. The good news, though, is his 1:32.793 was good enough for seventh place.
Nico Rosberg split the Bulls in sixth while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton didn’t even complete a single lap. Billed as the early season favourite, Hamilton broke down on his installation lap and reported to his team: “Car’s stopped, some smoke out of the back.”
Kevin Magnussen was the top rookie in eighth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Jean-Eric Vergne.
It was a dismal session for Lotus as Romain Grosjean never made it out and Pastor Maldonado completed just two laps. Caterham also failed to set a time.
01 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:31.840 20 laps
02 Jenson Button McLaren 1:32.357 23 laps
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:32.403 27 laps
04 Felipe Massa Williams 1:32.431 19 laps
05 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:32.599 26 laps
06 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.604 17 laps
07 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:32.793 10 laps
08 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:32.847 28 laps
09 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.977 19 laps
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.446 30 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:33.533 23 laps
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.855 24 laps
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.272 27 laps
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:35.578 7 laps
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:36.445 13 laps
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:40.859 6 laps
17 Max Chilton Marussia 1:46.922 4 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham No time 1 lap
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham No time 1 lap
Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time 2 laps
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time 1 lap
Romain Grosjean Lotus No time 0 laps