McLaren impress in Melbourne practice

 

The McLarens of Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest times as Formula One roared back to business with the first two practice sessions for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix today.

Button edged fellow former world champion Lewis Hamilton into second place by 0.245 seconds on the timesheets with a quickest lap of one minute 27.560 seconds in the first session.

A torrential downpour between the two sessions meant the times in second practice were down on the first, with most teams running wet weather tyres for all but the last 15 minutes.

"Even though it doesn't mean too much, it's always nice to start the season with the quickest time of the day," Button, who won at Albert Park in 2009 and 2010.

"The weather didn't help, but it's been the same for everyone. Overall, I think we're quite happy."

Seven-times champion Michael Schumacher had put Mercedes on top for much of the opening session with the quickest of his 17 laps (1.28.235) to confirm his Mercedes team's promising pre-season testing.

The 43-year-old German, who has yet to get on the podium since his return to the sport two years ago, also registered the fastest time in the second session in 1.29.183 ahead of Force India's Nico Hulkenburg.

Red Bull's Mark Webber, who will be looking to better his best finish of fifth in his 11th home grand prix, was fifth fastest with his reigning world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel 11th in the first session and 10th in the second.

The 24-year-old German, seeking a third successive world title this year, was not unduly concerned.

With teams using a variety of set-ups and fuel loads in the early practice sessions, little will be read into the relative speed of the leading contenders.

"I think obviously with the conditions it's difficult to get a lot of running but it was the same for all of us," Vettel, who won from pole here last year, said. "The important thing is to make a step overnight and go from there."

Fernando Alonso, another of the unprecedented six former world champions in the field, was fourth fastest for Ferrari in 1.28.360 despite a dangerous wobble coming into the home straight on the last of his 21 laps in the morning.

Former champion Kimi Raikkonen, returning this season with Lotus after two years out of F1, ran just 15 laps over both sessions and recorded the ninth quickest time in the morning of 1.29.565.

Toro Rosso's French rookie Jean-Eric Vergne was first out on a track still wet from the morning rain and only the HRT of Pedro de la Rosa failed to get out of the garage during the opening 90-minute session.

The Spaniard did get his car onto the track in the second session but failed to complete a lap and HRT boss Luis Perez-Sala said it would be "difficult" for the team to qualify for the race.

A third practice session takes place on Saturday before qualifying for Sunday's race.

"It still looks close between ourselves, Red Bull and Mercedes," said Hamilton.

"It's going to be interesting tomorrow - we'll get a better understanding of who's going to be quick. I'm massively excited to see how the rest of the weekend goes."

Reuters

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album