Sebastian Vettel resumed his service at the top of the standings by leading the 2013 season’s opening practice session in Melbourne.
The session began rather slowly, as teams and drivers waited until about the halfway point to get any serious running underway.
Early on, it was the drivers from Toro Rosso and Marussia who swapped places at the top of the time sheets. Once the Caterhams joined the scrap, the floodgates opened for the rest of the field.
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus was the first driver from the top teams to go for a timed lap. The pace of the E21 was immediately apparent as he shot to the top of the time sheets and stayed there until more of the heavy hitters joined him on track. The Finn eventually ended up sixth.
Sandwiched between the former and current world champions were the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, along with Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber.
After Kimi came the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg along with impressive F1 returnee, Adrian Sutil, the German showing that the rust supposedly accumulated during his time on the sidelines is all but disappeared.
The top ten was rounded out by Jenson Button in the Mclaren followed by the second Lotus of Romain Grosjean. Jenson’s teammate, Sergio Perez slotted in right behind the aforementioned Frenchman.
Places 12-17 were filled with the rest of the midfield runners while the back of the final places on the timesheets were occupied by the Toro Rosso, Marussia and Caterham drivers, respectively.
The only off-track incident came in the closing stages of the session when Paul di Resta went into the gravel trap at turn 5. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Scotsman was able to finagle himelf out of the gravel and back onto the track.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m27.211s 16 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.289s + 0.078s 17 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m27.547s + 0.336s 16 4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m27.552s + 0.341s 18 5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m27.668s + 0.457s 18 6. Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1m27.877s + 0.666s 17 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m28.013s + 0.802s 17 8. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m28.426s + 1.215s 19 9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.440s + 1.229s 19 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m28.520s + 1.309s 15 11. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m28.597s + 1.386s 19 12. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m28.786s + 1.575s 19 13. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m28.910s + 1.699s 18 14. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m29.443s + 2.232s 20 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m29.928s + 2.717s 19 16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m30.203s + 2.992s 17 17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.729s + 3.518s 17 18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m30.969s + 3.758s 19 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.263s + 4.052s 24 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m32.176s + 4.965s 23 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m32.274s + 5.063s 21 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m32.388s + 5.177s 18