Vettel dominates day one of new season

By on Friday, March 15, 2013

World champion Sebastian Vettel put his rivals firmly in their place by dominating both practice sessions on the opening day of the new Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday.

The German, embarking on his quest for a fourth successive world title, steered the car he has nicknamed 'Hungry Heidi' around the Melbourne street circuit in one minute 25.908 seconds half an hour before the end of the second session.

That lap topped the time sheets for the day, edging his Australian team mate Mark Webber (1.26.172) into second place as the Red Bull team scattered a few seeds of doubt over the consensus that the gap to the rest of the grid was narrowing.

Nico Rosberg (1.26.322) was best of the rest on what would have been an encouraging day for Mercedes had he not later ground to a halt just moments after his team mate Lewis Hamilton had driven over the gravel and into a wall.

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean grabbed the fourth and fifth best times to confirm some impressive showings for Lotus in pre-season testing.

Twice world champion Fernando Alonso and his team mate Felipe Massa had more competitive first than second sessions for Ferrari, finishing sixth and eighth fastest overall to sandwich the unfortunate Hamilton.

Hamilton had started brightly on a warm and sunny day at Albert Park and finished fourth quickest in the first session but faced the lonely walk back to the paddock after his crash just seven minutes from the end of the second.

German Adrian Sutil made an excellent start on his return to Force India after a year out of the sport by setting the ninth quickest time overall, outperforming not only his team mate Paul Di Resta but also both McLarens.

Jenson Button, who has won three of the last four Australian Grands Prix, only managed the 11th fastest time - 2.386 seconds off the pace - with his new team mate, Mexican Sergio Perez, lapped 13th quickest.

Out of the five rookie drivers Dutchman Giedo van der Garde had the worst of it, banking his Caterham on the trackside gravel at Turn 3 with an hour remaining of the session.

A third practice session takes place on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Laps
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:25.908 33
2 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:26.172 0.264 31
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.322 0.414 26
4 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:26.361 0.453 38
5 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:26.680 0.772 32
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:26.748 0.840 35
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.772 0.864 28
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.855 0.947 32
9 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:27.435 1.527 35
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1:28.187 2.279 34
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:28.294 2.386 30
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1:28.311 2.403 37
13 Sergio Perez McLaren 1:28.566 2.658 33
14 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:28.627 2.719 31
15 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:28.772 2.864 33
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:28.852 2.944 36
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:28.968 3.060 36
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:29.386 3.478 39
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:29.696 3.788 32
20 Charles Pic Caterham 1:30.165 4.257 37
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:30.600 4.692 36
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:32.450 6.542 11

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