Conditions for First Practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix were dry, with a track temperature of 34 degrees and air temperature of 32 degrees, with wind gusting to 7mps.Vettel set the early pace on a 1:31.879, being just one of four drivers who had set a time in the first thirty minutes of the session with many completing just a single installation lap. On his first installation lap, David Coulthard complained of being uncomfortable in his car, describing where his helmet and cockpit padding came together.
Trulli, with fifty-six minutes remaining, put his Toyota ahead on a 1:31.023. Raikkonen and Massa then put both Ferraris at the top of the timesheets, on a 1:28.997 and 1:29.847 respectively. Trulli then went faster on a 1:29.469 to separate the two scarlet cars, but a lap later Kimi and Felipe set faster times of 1:28.158 and 1:28.391 to secure the top spots.
With forty minutes gone McLaren had yet to show their pace, as Raikkonen set another blistering lap on 1:27.709. A couple of minutes later, Massa went faster, setting a time of 1:27.524.
Kovalainen set a time of 1:29.615 for McLaren, with Hamilton going third on a 1:28.332 a couple of minutes later. Seconds later Kovalainen went third quickest on a 1:28.023. With 43 minutes remaining Hamilton set the fastest time on a 1:27.386.
Positions at this time are L Hamilton, F Massa, K Raikkonen, H Kovalainen, T Glock, J Trulli, F Alonso, D Coulthard, S Vettel, A Sutil, M Webber, R Barrichello, N Piquet, G Fisichella, S Bourdais, J Button, K Nakajima. Drivers yet to set a time include R Kubica, T Sato, A Davidson, N Rosberg.
Hamilton looked set to break into the 1:26s, with a lap of 1:27.085. Coulthard returned to the pits with smoke pouring from his car. Mechanics sprayed extinguishers under the engine cover. Meanwhile Heidfeld complained of understeer due to graining on his left front tyre. But his problems were to get worse, stopping on track with twenty-five minutes remaining after setting a first sector time of almost fifty seconds. The German later said that everything went blank in the cockpit and he was unable to restart the systems.
Massa and Raikkonen have closed the gap to Hamilton, both on low 1:27s.
Twenty-one minutes remaining and the practice is red flagged with Piquet stopped after a spin somewhere in sector three. Three minutes later and the session restarts (11.12am local time) after marshals clear the stricken Renault.
Alonso in the other Renault has crept into fifth position, a whole twelve places ahead of his team-mate Piquet. Behind him sit the Toyotas of Glock and Trulli, with Coulthard ninth despite missing out on most the session. His team-mate Webber is tenth, with Fisichella eleventh with a strong first showing for the Force India team. The second Force India car of Sutil is in sixteenth.
With two minutes remaining Raikkonen breaks into the 1:26s and goes fastest on a 1:26.823. Meanwhile Kovalainen improve to third on a 1:27.114. Raikkonen again goes fastest, this time fastest in every sector on a 1:26.461 six tenths faster than any other driver at this time. Webber improves to fifth on a 1:28.263 to the delight of his home fans.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.461 25 2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.948 + 0.487 21 3. Massa Ferrari 1:26.958 + 0.497 25 4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.114 + 0.653 19 5. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:28.263 + 1.802 18 6. Alonso Renault 1:28.360 + 1.899 22 7. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.579 + 2.118 12 8. Glock Toyota 1:28.913 + 2.452 16 9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.957 + 2.496 22 10. Trulli Toyota 1:29.014 + 2.553 23 11. Button Honda 1:29.124 + 2.663 25 12. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:29.230 + 2.769 24 13. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:29.301 + 2.840 5 14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.363 + 2.902 32 15. Barrichello Honda 1:29.533 + 3.072 17 16. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:29.561 + 3.100 7 17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:30.155 + 3.694 13 18. Piquet Renault 1:30.357 + 3.896 21 19. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.048 + 4.587 7 20. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.771 + 5.310 7 21. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:35.053 + 8.592 3 22. Rosberg Williams-Toyota No time 3