Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull blasted their way to the top of the time sheets during both Friday Practice sessions to kick off their 2013 campaign in style. Romain Grosjean in the Lotus went fastest in a rain soaked practice session today. The three time world champion was dominant in both practice sessions as he asserted Red Bull’s superiorityinMelbourne’s Albert Park street circuit. However, he hit trouble today during the final session and ended up 12th fastest. It might be a minor problem but the Red Bull pace looks ominous and they are definitely favorites for this race.
Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari – Impressive gains:
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the Ferraris were the only competition for the Red Bull, but again, it is impossible to say if they were faster or slower than they actually are owing to the varying fuel loads. Hamilton had an incident in the second session when he made a detour into the gravel.His teammate Nico Rosberg also suffered an issue when his car ground to a halt due to a suspected gearbox failure. The Lotus team also were very impressive with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean ending up in the top five during almost all sessions and Grosjean topping the timesheets in the final session.With the Lotus being very good with it’s tyres, it could be a force to reckon with on Sunday.
McLaren – Worrisome:
One conspicuous absentee at the top of the charts was McLaren whose radical car was not very comfortable with the street characteristics of the Albert Park circuit. While they were expected to be contenders this season, it was surprising to see both Button and Perez languishing at the lower end of the top ten during both practice sessions. Button ruefully explained that the car the team had a lot of homework to do and that they need to better understand the car in order to scrape through into the points. This does not bode well for the Woking squad.
Romain tops final wet session:
Saturday’s final session was marred by showers which meant most teams could not set a proper time and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean setting the fastest time. Ferrari continued their impressive form with both Alonso and Massa setting the second and third fastest times.
Red Bull go into this race as favorites with Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes being the only teams to topple them. McLaren still have a lot of work to do and I hope they are able to fight on after they have sorted out their problems. With a wet qualifying session expected, it could turn out to be a lottery and is shaping up for a very exciting race!