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

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
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

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style