Beautiful weather shone down on the 70,300 race fans at Albert Park in Melbourne Friday for the first day of Formula One sessions at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix. After the clouds blew away, it was bright and just warm enough to totally enjoyable. Picture Perfect! If only it could last.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL/Infiniti Red Bull Racing was the fastest driver in both Friday practice sessions, with his fastest time – 1:25.908, in the second session which ran from 4:30-6pm local time. His lap was set at 5:23pm, and all but three drivers set their best times after 5pm.
Second and third fastest in P1 were FELIPE MASSA and FERNANDO ALONSO/Scuderia Ferrari.
In the late afternoon session, the next fastest were Vettel’s RBR teammate, MARK WEBER and NICO ROSBERG/Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
The top Rookies were P15; VALTTERI BOTTAS/Williams F1 Team in first Practice, and ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ/Sauber, the youngest driver this season, in second Practice.
No Reserve Drivers went out in the first Practice.
There are five F1 Champions in this year’s lineup, along side five Rookies. The Champs are: in order of age: KIMI RAIKKONEN/Lotus F1 Team-34; JENSON BUTTON/Vodafone McLaren Mercedes-33; FERNANDO ALONSO/Scuderia Ferrari-32; LEWIS HAMILTON/Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team-28; and Vettel-26. The Rookies are, in order of age: Guiterrez-22; MAX CHILTON/Marussia-22; CHARLES PIC/Caterham-23; Bottas-24;JULES BIANCHI/Marussia-24; and GIEDO VAN DER GARDE/Caterham F1 Team-28.
The oldest driver is Webber, who will be 37 this summer. And he’s getting testy about constantly being asked if this is the year he’ll retire. He’s repeatedly said he’ll retire when he’s ready.
The Fan Gallery outside the F1 Paddock entrance was chocka-bloka with eager race fans awaiting the sight of their favorite driver. Clearly, it appeared that local lad, Webber, was popular as he was swarmed. At one point, I couldn’t see the tall, lanky driver for the total envelope of photographers covering the scene.
Oh, by the way. You’ll be pleased to know that the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations regarding cockpit exit time was checked for the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team, and the driver’s knees were cleared.