Mark Webber has set the fastest lap of the first practice session under hazy skies at Sepang, just edging out Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Räikkönen.
Webber set a 1.36.935 early on in the session and was never really pressured, with Räikkönen setting a 1.37.003 late in the session after a KERS issue sidelined him for most of the practice. It continues on the good form by Lotus, who are looking for back to back wins to start 2013.
Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel set the third quickest time, just edging out the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in fourth. Nico Rosberg showed signs of pace for Mercedes again in fifth, while Adrian Sutil again impressed since his return in sixth place. The German had to pit with a front wing issue during the session, but set a 1.37.769, while his team-mate Paul di Resta made sure both Force India’s were in the top ten by finishing in eighth place.
Felipe Massa was seventh while Lewis Hamilton beat out Romain Grosjean to ninth place. Hamilton suffered tyre issues during the session which hampered his running, and he will be looking to close the gap to Rosberg in the second practice session this afternoon.
McLaren once again look like they are in trouble here in Malaysia after Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez could only manage eleventh and thirteenth. Button suffered a puncture and was forced to use another set of the hard compound Pirelli tyres, meaning he will have one less set for this afternoon’s second practice session. Pastor Maldonado showed some improvement for Williams by finishing in twelfth, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas came in sixteenth-quickest.
In 14th and 15th came the two Saubers, with Nico Hülkenberg edging out Esteban Gutiérrez. The Mexican had a brief off during the session as he came up behind the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and was forced to brake hard and landed in the gravel. He recovered, however, and continued on. Alonso too suffered a severe lock up and ran wide, but suffered no issues due to the incident.
Toro Rosso look like they are struggling in Malaysia with Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne only managing 17th and 18th. Ricciardo was a clear 1.2 seconds ahead of the nearest back marker of Giedo van der Garde, but close to three seconds off the fastest lap set by compatriot Webber.
Van der Garde took the back marker ‘honour’ of being fastest, just edging out the so far impressive Jules Bianchi in the Marussia. Charles Pic was 21st, while Max Chilton brought up the rear in 22nd place.
With clouds looming at Sepang and the searing heat continuing to make conditions uncomfortable, it looks to be an interesting second practice session.
2013 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:36.935||15|
|2.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:37.003||+ 0.068||15|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:37.104||+ 0.169||21|
|4.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:37.319||+ 0.384||13|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:37.588||+ 0.653||19|
|6.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:37.769||+ 0.834||17|
|7.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:37.771||+ 0.836||15|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:37.773||+ 0.838||15|
|9.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:37.840||+ 0.905||18|
|10.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:37.915||+ 0.980||17|
|11.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:38.173||+ 1.238||16|
|12.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:38.673||+ 1.738||16|
|13.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:38.830||+ 1.895||17|
|14.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:39.054||+ 2.119||17|
|15.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:39.204||+ 2.269||16|
|16.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:39.208||+ 2.273||19|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:39.284||+ 2.349||17|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:39.567||+ 2.632||16|
|19.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:40.728||+ 3.793||17|
|20.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:40.996||+ 4.061||14|
|21.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:41.163||+ 4.228||18|
|22.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:41.513||+ 4.578||14|
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