Fernando Alonso topped the timings for Ferrari in an interesting first practice session of the 2014 season.
The Spaniard completed a 1:31.840 an hour into the opening 90 minutes at Melbourne’s Albert Park, ending a full half second clear of Jenson Button’s McLaren and the two Williams with Valtteri Bottas beating Felipe Massa at the very end of the session.
Favourites heading into the weekend, Mercedes had something of a disappointing session as Lewis Hamilton came to a halt on his first lap out of the pits as an issue with the oil pressure system caused his V6 power unit to shut down.
Team-mate Nico Rosberg was also largely quiet taking sixth place albeit eight tenths off the leading Ferrari. The German completed an unspectacular 17 laps one of the lowest of those drivers doing some decent running.
The first man to post a time in 2014 was home-favourite Daniel Ricciardo and the newest Red Bull recruit gave his fans so hope running trouble-free in the session, completing 26 laps and finishing best of the Renault-powered cars in fifth.
That put him ahead of his four-time champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel who only emerged from the garage with 30 minutes left in the session. The 26-year-old did complete a solid run towards the end managing ten laps in all and finishing eighth.
The new cars were proving to be quite a handful on the dusty streets of Albert Park with several drivers running off track at the traditional spot of turn one, however on the whole the session was incident free.
Lotus struggled to get the E22 on track, much like they did in testing, with Pastor Maldonado only completing a few laps at the end. However mistakes and smoke entering the cockpit suggested all was not well while his team-mate, Romain Grosjean, didn’t even leave the garage on Friday morning.
In what was a mixed practice for the four Renault teams Toro Rosso completed the most laps of anyone with Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat managing 57 laps between them, while problems with the fuel and electrical systems kept the Caterham team largely in the garage with neither car setting a time.
In the battle for the wooden spoon, Marussia managed to get both cars running and setting lap times, however, both Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were quite some way off the rest of the field.
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