Fernando Alonso topped the opening practice session of the 2014 season, finishing half a second clear of second-placed Jenson Button and third-placed Valtteri Bottas. Alonso, whose best lap of 1:31.840 was over 4.5s slower than last year’s best FP1 time, recorded 30 laps of the Albert Park circuit on his way to the top of the timesheet.
Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, had a difficult start to his season, the Mercedes man stopping on track after just a single lap.
Williams enjoyed a good session, with Felipe Massa confirming the Mercedes-powered team’s competitiveness with the fourth-fastest time.
After enduring a torrid winter test programme Red Bull Racing hit the ground running in Australia with home favourite Daniel Ricciardo posting 26 laps on his way to the session’s fifth-fastest time – a lap of 1:32.599.
Ricciardo’s team-mate, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who had topped last year’s first free practice session with a lap of 1:27.211, took longer to get going this time out, the German emerging from the Red Bull Racing garage as the session edged towards the one-hour mark. He recorded just 10 laps during the session, for a best time of 1:32.793 and seventh place, two tenths of a second down on Mercedes Nico Rosberg. Red Bull Racing’s total number of laps was, however, greater than last year’s FP1 tally of 34.
With McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen eighth and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen ninth the final top ten spot was left to Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
The Renault-powered Italian squad turned more laps than any other team in the opening session, with Vergne completing 30 laps and team-mate Daniil Kvyat logging 27.
At the opposite end of the scale were Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Neither emerged until the final 20 minutes of the session when Maldonado finally appeared for an installation lap. However smoke was soon seen coming from his car and after an off-track excursion he then stopped at the pit lane entry. Grosjean remained in the garage for the whole session.
Caterham too had problems with Marcus Ericsson sidelined by an electrical issue and Kamui Kobayashi halted by a fuel system issue.
2014 Australian Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Times
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:31.840 20
2 Jenson Button McLaren 1:32.357 +0.517 23
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:32.403 +0.563 27
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:32.431 +0.591 19
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:32.599 +0.759 26
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.604 +0.764 17
7 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:32.793 +0.953 10
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:32.847 +1.007 28
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:32.977 +1.137 19
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:33.446 +1.606 30
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:33.533 +1.693 23
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:33.855 +2.015 24
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:34.272 +2.432 27
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:35.578 +3.738 7
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:36.445 +4.605 13
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:40.859 +9.019 6
17 Max Chilton Marussia 1:46.922 +15.082 4
18 Marcus Ericsson Caterham No time 1
19 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time 1
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham No time 1
21 Pastor Maldonado Lotus No time 2
22 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault No time 0