Australian Grand Prix First Practice

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.

Unofficial Times:

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