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2011 Australian GP (Rd 1, Free Practice 1)

March 25, 2011

The layout at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Free Practice 1
Mark Webber set the quickest time in the opening practice session this morning in Melbourne.

In cool and overcast conditions, the Australian set a best of 1:26.831 at the tail of the session, some three-tenths quicker than teammate Sebastian Vettel.
Fernando Alonso took 3rd, albeit one second off the pace. The Spaniard clocked up 20 laps in his new Ferrari with no problems.
Admittedly, teams were unlike to be chasing lap times, as they bed in the new Pirelli tyres and run the Drag Reduction System (DRS) in anger; however it may be seen as first blood to Red Bull at this early stage.

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Rubens Barrichello (Williams) were next up, with the McLaren of Jenson Button in 6th. Lewis Hamilton was just four-hundredths of-a-second shy of his teammate in 7th place. Despite being 1.6 seconds off of Webber’s pace, the McLaren pair may take some solace from running 55 laps between them.
Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) and Vitaly Petrov (Renault) rounded out the top-ten, although it was not plain sailing for the Sauber driver – his engine cover flew off the car spraying debris over the back straight with a few minutes remaining.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa (11th) set the first timed lap of the day, but followed that up with a slide off circuit due to an open DRS in the braking of turn 3 – a feat repeated by Adrian Sutil (13th, Force India).

Daniel Ricciardo (16th) sat in for Jaime Alguersuari at Toro Rosso, while Nico Hulkenberg (18th) took Paul di Resta’s Force India seat.
New Lotus signing, Karun Chandhok ran the first practice in place of Jarno Trulli; however the Indian suffered an embarrassing crash three corners in, ripping off the front wing and damaging the right rear.
Virgin’s Timo Glock suffered gearbox issues, losing the first half of the morning session as a result. Both he and new teammate, Jerome d’Ambrosio set worrying times, some 8.4 seconds slower than Webber.
Neither Hispania ventured out on track and may not run today at all.

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time              Laps
 1.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1m26.831s  +        20
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1m27.158s  + 0.327  19
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari                1m27.749s  + 0.918  20
 4.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1m28.152s  + 1.321  16
 5.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1m28.430s  + 1.599  24
 6.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m28.440s  + 1.609  29
 7.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1m28.483s  + 1.652  26
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1m28.690s  + 1.859  14
 9.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1m28.725s  + 1.894  13
10.  Petrov         Renault                1m28.765s  +  1.93  15
11.  Massa          Ferrari                1m28.842s  + 2.011  20
12.  Heidfeld       Renault                1m28.928s  + 2.097  14
13.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1m29.314s  + 2.483  19
14.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m29.328s  + 2.497  21
15.  Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1m29.403s  + 2.572  24
16.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m29.468s  + 2.637  23
17.  Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m29.643s  + 2.812  18
18.  Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes   1m31.002s  + 4.171  20
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1m32.428s  + 5.597  13
20.  d'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1m35.282s  + 8.451  17
21.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1m35.289s  + 8.458  15
22.  Chandhok       Lotus-Cosworth         no time              1
23.  Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth           no time
24.  Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           no time
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