Vettel on top as the F1 circus gets underway

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
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