Mark Webber set the pace in the first practice session for the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:36.935   15
2. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:37.003 + 0.068 15
3. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:37.104 + 0.169 21
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:37.319 + 0.384 13
5. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:37.588 + 0.653 19
6. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:37.769 + 0.834 17
7. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:37.771 + 0.836 15
8. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:37.773 + 0.838 15
9. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:37.840 + 0.905 18
10. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:37.915 + 0.980 17
11. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:38.173 + 1.238 16
12. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:38.673 + 1.738 16
13. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:38.830 + 1.895 17
14. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:39.054 + 2.119 17
15. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:39.204 + 2.269 16
16. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:39.208 + 2.273 19
17. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:39.284 + 2.349 17
18. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:39.567 + 2.632 16
19. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:40.728 + 3.793 17
20. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:40.996 + 4.061 14
21. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:41.163 + 4.228 18
22. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:41.513 + 4.578 14

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.