Many suspected that Red Bull Racing’s RB9 was holding back during the preseason Formula One testing, even though the team stated they were preparing for 2014 and the new rules.
The three consecutive FIA Formula One world champion flew to the fastest time on the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne to set the fastest time in the first practice for the Australian Grand Prix season opener. Sebastian Vettel’s best lap time was 1:27.211 to prove once again that the Infinity Red Bull-Renault team is ready to take on their challengers.
Second went to Scuderia Ferrari’s Felipe Massa who was only 0.078 of a second off the pace of the German. The Brazilian was ahead of his teammate Fernando Alonso who clocked a 1:27.547.
Lewis Hamilton who showed the power of the Mercedes works team was fourth with a 1:27.552. The Briton was pleased with the morning practice session with his new ride this year.
Mark Webber placed his RB9 fifth fastest with his best lap time of 1:27.668, nearly 0.5 seconds off the pace of his teammate, Vettel.
The early part of the session was mainly for installation laps, and possible setup changes. The track was, of course, dirty with dust flying off as the drivers continued to lay down laps.
Several drivers went off the course but only Paul de Resta truly put on a show as he spun heading into the fifth turn and placed his Force India car in one of the gravel traps. Amazingly he was able to get back on track.
Practice two may see slight changes in the top runners as Kimi Raikkonen was close to the top five in his Lotus Renault and Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg many find more speed in his Mercedes.
The surprise was McLaren-Mercedes team’s Jenson Button was back in ninth with his best lap time of 1:28.440.