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Press Snoop: Five & five plus 70,300

16 March 2013

Beautiful weather shone down on the 70,300 race fans at Albert Park in Melbourne Friday for the first day of F1 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 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 team-mate, Mark Webber 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 line-up, alongside 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 Sebastian Vettel (Infiniti Red Bull Racing) - 26. The rookies are, in order of age, Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber F1 Team) and Max Chilton (Marussia) – both 22; Valtteri Bottas (Williams F1 Team) - 24; Jules Bianchi (Marussia) - 24 and Giedo van der Garde (Caterham F1 Team) - 28.

The oldest driver is Mark Webber (Infiniti Red Bull Racing), 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 favourite 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 drivers' knees were cleared.


by Lynne Huntting


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