F1 Winter Break
Vettel and Red Bull on ominous form on Day One of new F1 season
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Mar 2013   |  10:09 am GMT  |  289 comments

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel set the pace on the first day of the season in Melbourne. The German was the only driver to set a time under 1m 26s and his best time was set on the third lap on his supersoft tyres, having been forced to abort the first lap on the final sector due to traffic. This suggests that there was more to come.

Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber was second, with Nico Rosberg third for Mercedes. However Rosberg ended the session walking back to the paddock after a gearbox problem stopped his car on track.

Mercedes had problems on Lewis Hamilton’s car as well; the new recruit also walked back in after driving into a gravel trap after part of the floor broke.

The Red Bull also looked strong on long runs on both types of tyres, confirming that their performance at the final Barcelona test, where they tried many new things, was not an act of desperation, but a sign of confidence that they would have a good car for the start of the season and could afford to look at future developments.

How far ahead they are we will learn over the next 48 hours, although rain is forecast for qualifying.

Other indications from today are that the Mercedes looks fast in qualifying trim, while the Lotus and Ferrari look consistent on the long runs. Lotus’ race pace could well be one of the stories of Sunday afternoon; Kimi Raikkonen’s 14 lap run was impressive at the end of the second session. Both Lotus cars finished in the top five.

After all kinds of dire predictions about tyre degradation, today suggested that althoiugh there is significant degradation, the drivers will probably need to stop two or three times on Sunday; the front runners may find three stops faster.

It looks like the game for the drivers starting on supersoft will be to pit early, between laps 5 and 8 and get onto the medium tyre for the rest of the race. This will offer opportunities for drivers who qualify just outside the top ten, to start on the medium tyre.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez may be among that number; the McLaren lacks rear grip and also seems to be jumpy over the bumps. Jenson Button looked dejected after the second practice session and questioned whether he would manage to get into the top ten in qualifying.

“Clearly, we’re not as quick as we’d like to be, so our task now is to work hard to find out why our car is like it is, particularly in terms of ride and downforce,” said Button.

“Our short runs weren’t particularly encouraging, to be honest. We’re a couple of seconds off the pace, by the looks of things, and that’s always going to be disappointing for a team as successful as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX, Melbourne, Free Practice
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m25.908 33 laps
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m26.172s + 0.264 31
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m26.322s + 0.414 26
4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m26.361s + 0.453 37
5. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m26.680s + 0.772 30
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.748s + 0.840 35
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m26.772s + 0.864 28
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m26.855s + 0.947 32
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m27.435s + 1.527 34
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m28.187s + 2.279 34
11. Jenson Button McLaren 1m28.294s + 2.386 30
12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m28.311s + 2.403 37
13. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m28.566s + 2.658 32
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m28.627s + 2.719 31
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m28.772s + 2.864 33
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m28.852s + 2.944 36
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m28.968s + 3.060 35
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m29.386s + 3.478 38
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m29.696s + 3.788 30
20. Charles Pic Caterham 1m30.165s + 4.257 37
21. Max Chilton Marussia 1m30.600s + 4.692 34
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m32.450s + 6.542 11

Featured Video
Behind the Scenes at the track
Behind the Scenes at the track
Featured News in ferrari
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Go Fernando 6th on the grid will be good enough to be 4th come the 3rd corner.....


6th on the grid will be good enough to be punted off at the first corner by Grosjean!


Unfortunately, by that time, Vettel might be leading by half a second up front.

Nothing against Seb - I don't care who wins the WDC given that it's fought until the end (like last year).


He won't be leading by half a second because Grosjean will have called the safety car out!


The first practice Massa .078 off with Alonso .3 off. I for one am not going to count my chickens yet.


Oh no! Chance of wet quali! I'm split. On one hand I want the craziness of a wet quali grid. On the other hand, I'd really like to know the pecking order.

Ahh..what the heck, bring on the wet quali!


Yup but from Alonso (Also Hammy and Button) fan point of view 6th's got to be a better start to the season than whatever it was last year...........

Agreed, Heres hoping its not 2011 all over again.


Another typical Mclaren year. Something is missing in that team. Its seems they are always playing catch up even when the car is the fastest


They've lost too many talented personnel over the years.



I can't wait for Whitmarsh to leave.

They had the best car at the end of last year. Next year, all new rules, engine and car, new design inevitable.

This year, instead of an evolution, they threw away everything and start from scratch. Go figure.


Mclaren is in reality on "TOP FORM" they only lost the worlds biggest telecom operator as sponsor;Lost their main technician (Lowe);lost their biggest driving asset Hamilton;lost their free Mercedes engine going past 2014.what are they going to lose next?and note that despite all these losses they have the dishonesty to claim that they made an offer to Hamilton that would have made him the richest driver ever?they were simply running out of money to pay all these above services.they are in reverse mode in F1 now.


I wonder, with the McLaren apparently mostly lacking in downforce, would there have been any significant disadvantage in starting the first couple of races in last year's car...?


I agree, this has happened at least 3 times in the last 6 years. Whats worse is that the last time a true great left them like Senna, they struggled throughout 1994 and did not win until 1997. I see history repeating itself.

I honestly dont know what goes through Whitmashes head, in 09 Mclaren produced a car which was fighting at one stage with the Torro Rossos, in 2010 they corrected the front wing just in time saving them 1.5 seconds a lap. Now in 2013 they have a driver who frankly should not be in that car such as Perez and Button who must be wondering what he needs to do to get a break. I see a season of car breakages, Button lossing his head and Perez being replaced mid season. NOT GOOD ENOUGH


JB losing his head? Rather un characteristic isn't it? Lewis yes, JB, don't think so. What I see is a fundamental design philosophy change in the MP4-28, the nose is higher than any previous MP4 chassis, something McLarens out of the stable have been nitrous of over the past 10 years. As Neale said, they could not have raised the nose using the MP4-27 chassis, they had to go round the base and start again. The front suspension “Pull-Rod” (top of the wheel to bottom chassis pull system) is nothing new to F1, but allows the front end mechanics to be lower, creating a lower center of gravity [L-CoG], to compensate for the higher nose [+7.4cm higher than last year with a hollow top] and higher front ballast point, the whole front end [concept and design] is new on the MP4-28. Higher nose means, more air flow to be channeled and wrapped around the side pods [increasing the Coanda efficiency] and rear diffuser(s). Overall, any new car requires understanding [not including tyre headaches included], when you change something like suspension you change the data you understood from last year in setups. So what I see is work ahead, what I see is potential, what I hope is progress in quickly coming to grips with what isn’t a dud car, but a learning curve.


While I agree about McLarens recent shortcomings, I doubt JB will loose his head, and I really, *really* doubt McLaren will replace a driver mid season!


Michael Andretti 1993, replaced by a certain Mika Hakkinen


Perez in his first outing in a race trim McLaren is .2 seconds down on Button. It should either reflect good on Perez or bad on Button... not good news either way.


I agree, seems like another year where Mclaren are playing catch up a bit, I like other thought their car looked good. Hamilton must be laughing, I thought he was wrong to leave but I'm starting to think otherwise. Also I think Max Chilton is in F1 for the wrong reasons, he needed a few more seasons in a lower category. This year Jules Bianchi is going to show him up unfortunately.



And everybody said that the McLaren looked so fast, during the launch...


Too early to make judgement


I wouldn't write them off just yet. The Ferrari was awful at the start of last year and look what happened. I know (and please lets not have this debate here) Button isn't Alonso but Massa was doing well enough late on last year. Its a brand new car and will evolve, and if it has the better potential for development they keep citing, might end up fastest. For Button/Perez to have a shot at the title does look tricky right now though...


Oh, how they laughed when they heard the news. Go to Mercedes?! Leave McLaren?! Never! Only an idiot would do that!

"He's only after the money".
"Hamilton will never be one of the greats because he's more motivated by money than by winning".
"Hamilton only cares about his showbiz image - that's why he's leaving: image rights".

Hahaha, Jackie Stewart et al, explain today's events away, why don't you. Someone please put a mic under Jackie Stewart's mouth and ask him whether he still thinks Lewis made a huge mistake.[mod]


Oops! Maybe Lewis wasn't so silly after all.


I was thinking the same thing.


Lewis said it clearly:"he could not believe that Mclaren did not match Mercedes offer!well they simply could not ,because they knew they needed $35.000.000 to pay for Mercedes engine to keep it;needed Perez 's money from the richest guy on earth;and were losing vodafone sponsorship,the next is most probably : Santander is taking their money to Ferrari only.


hahahaha! +1

It's maybe too early but McLaren have pretty built a dog! There's no Lewis to wreck the sh***t out of it and deliver extra performance!!... Had they not 'insulted' him last year!

We'll see how things pan out!

As for Red Bull it's 2011 walk over again!

Lotus, bloody fast and promising pace for Ferrari too! Mercedes a bit unknown, some reliability but hopefully they'll get it sorted! F1 is back, i really don't want to see Sebastian leaving other in the dust...Come on, find him some rivals to fight for his title!!


Well it seems you were right James that Red Bull were out in front, and it would seem not just slightly. While I have nothing against them I do hope this is not going to be another Red Bull dominanted season, but of course they do have Adrian Newey's design team and they seemed to have worked their magic once again. By contrast McLaren look nowhere, and it's beginning to look like a step too far for them. It looks as though it might be Mercedes chasing Red Bull if they get their act together and sort the few problems they've had out, but very closely followed by Ferrari and Lotus.


A strong sense of deja vu - Red Bull on top and McLaren struggling with a dog!


I don't think the McLaren is a dog, just difficult to drive and to set up. Unfortunately they pushed away the driver who probably could have handled such a tricky car, and this is Dennis fault, too.


Struggling with a Dog? no no no no no... try ferile Cat! they were a second off at this point last yr, this yr there a massive 2.5 off RB and 1.5-2 off Ferrari Merc And Lotus! there mixing it with Force India.

Ron Dennis will be F ing fuming expect to see him back at the forefront of F1 operations by the seasons end i reckon!

Was discussing this earlier with a friend during the team principles press meeting, you may remember a few yrs back when Martin took over he looked about 10yrs younger than Ron....he now looks ten yrs older!


Anyway, instead of hitting the ground running they're playing catch up again.


"They were a second off at this point last year"

Are you serious? They started last year with clearly the fasest car. And finisghed the season with fastest car too.


Incorrect actually bother to do your homework into final winter testing and practice 2 Melbourne, they were slower than i remembered 2 seconds off the pace!


Does anyone know if they are running the 2012 or 2013 engine maps... Just clutching at straws


I believe cars that run in P1 to P3 have to comply with technical regulations, unlike in testing.

And since Vettel won four of his five victories with the 2013 spec map, I doubt it is much of an issue for them.



1. Mclaren looks like they are in trouble - Lewis seems to have landed on his feet!!

2. RBR looks fine - Kudos to everyone who predicted this - I actually thought they were struggling

3. Lotus & Ferrari are looking good - I thought Ferrari was managing the tyre better - James, some view into it will be nice!!

4. Form from last season: Ferrari & Merc have moved up while Mclaren, William have gone down...

Can't wait for tomorrow!!


Mercedes looked strong at the start of 2012 too. After 8-9 races, they will be fighting Force India, as usual. If they don't keep getting technical problems, as usual.


You'll surprised by Mercedes AMG! This year, a new challenge...top driver, best lineup of te grid, multi resources and money!! Staff and management! 2013 will be written another chapter of success!


& passive DRS seems to be working for RBR... & this Merc might become the fast fragile car - replace Mcl!!


They aren't using passive DRS here. No-one is.

Too much going on with first race to over-complicate things


I can't see the point in running passive DRS at Melbourne anyway. The layout of the track isn't conducive to its use, especially given the time it'd take to set up in the FP sessions.


Sorry! was getting over excited with the RBR speed - especially considering that they have lost the most to the rule changes!! 🙂


James, where do you think Ferrari is? Something like 0,6-0,8 off Red Bull in qualifying and something like 0,2-0,3 off in the long run?



I think Ferrai may be 0.1 off in qualy pace and 0.3/0,4 ahead in race trim.


@ nique je te

No mate Ferrari are slower than RBR, Mercedes and Lotus

Ferrari are good 5 tenths away from RBR in quali or one lap pace. Race pace or long stints are not promising as well. Lotus and Mercedes looks quicker and consistent

F138 looks better than F2012. Nothing more than that

VP of Common Sense

You were so spot on! Ferrari were way slower than Mercedes. NOT! Testing and free practice means absolutely nothing. The F138 is a WDC contender, much more to come from Maranello.


Time will tell


Holy crap...ominous ominous ominous. Looks like everyone besides Red Bull will be doing the rain dance...again. AND, you say James Vettel still had some speed in his pocket? Oh no 🙁 Let's hope someone else can spring something for quali


Who is this James Vettel chap? 🙂


erm... think he left the comma out !!!


Well, that 2013 all done. Vettel's 4th.

But hang on, Lotus and Ferrari look pretty ominous as well. In fact, Kimi looks fitter and meaner than he did even back in his McLaren days.

McLaren crew look smart in their long pants, but the car? I'm sure they'll make Q3 [fingers crossed]

As for Merc: Ooops!


It looks like Kimi, Seb and Alonso will fight it out to the end, with Kimi having the edge, because he does indeed seem determined, if Lotus can keep up with the development of the car. Do not write Maclaren off, however, they will be stronger as the season progresses. Whether they will be able to catch the frontrunners and mount a strong challenge remains to be seen. They have the only car on the grid that can be massively improved. The others can only hope to gain at best a few tenths, while they could gain more than a second.


I'm for one not surprised at RB pace (in fact I wrote about it a previous comment on this site when most were getting sucked in to the pre season BS). What is a little strange is how RB manage to still be ahead when DRS and other loopholes get closed off? Well call me a weirdo or whatever but I think RB have something up their sleeve that has been there all along for the last 3 seasons and that is KERS trouble! I'm starting to believe whatever it is they got is causing KERS issues OR they are deliberately causing KERS to fail (which I know would make little sense unless you got a bigger gain in doing so). Now I'm no engineer, heck I'm not very technical, perhaps anyone else can add some pieces to the puzzle?


I think Red Bull have just had it right since 2009, just adjusting to the regulations which have largely been changed to reign them in. McLaren in comparison have something significantly different with their car every year.


Jenson's fans thought he was sand-bagging during the tests. Well, it seems disaster prone MacLaren have outdone themselves abandoning a winning car to try and appease Jenson [mod].. developing a car catering his driving style, which is not speedy.


that car has been designed with his technical input, he's been so pompous to announce it during pre-season! why complaining?

JB will be exposed this year!


exposed? What


You obviously haven't been following F1 recently, or atleast not reading the articles.

It's true, well true infact that Mclaren look crap, however, they didn't develop the last car, they have built a new one from the ground up with a lot of creative and new ideas.

Personally I have no idea why right now, but the way Mercedes have raped them as a team of late it's not surprising they are reeling a little.

However, as James Allen has stated in several articles, Mclaren have taken a new development line and some risks and hope to develop over the year. No one was saying Mclaren was going to take Australia by storm, including Button and Mclaren.


Maybe its better to be team neutral and just support Di Resta and Lewis. With the loss of Newey, Alonso, Lewis, Paddy Lowe and God knows who else, he magic Coulthard and Mika evoked has evaporated.


Gee, you know Jenson is a cool customer.

But for the last 12 months when he gets on the radio its all about, "I have no grip", "Understear", "Overstear", etc etc.

He needs to just get on with it and take it by the balls like Alonso.

Sorry but true.


lewis will be missed ,.guess ron wished they would of kept him and put his hand in his pocket.lewis squeezes every ounce of speed out of the car and a few more tenths too.i have never rated button ,he is always moaning,seems this year he has something to moan about.

he can only win if his car is alot faster than the rest,like it was at brawn. he has been messing round on tv doing adverts.


Jenson the Set-up Master

Jenson the Development Master

His input into 'developing the car' hasn't been a massive success, has it? And as for 'moulding the team' around himself, well, that's not been great with Paddy getting the hell out of Dodge. When it comes to Jenson, I'm thinking paperbags, fighting, and the word "couldn't", right now.

Who knows, maybe they'll come good, but for all their bravado they're looking like rabbits right now. The wording being used by Whitmarsh reek of rank pandemonium within McLaren. "We don't understand our car", "we don't know what to do with it", "worst day I can remember", etc. Not the type of words you want to be using when you're sans a title sponsor and just started the search for another. Why wouldn't he just say "yep, we're in a spot of bother and we're looking to sort it out, nuff said", I don't know.

I'm thinking we may well be hearing race punctuated with the following messages from the McL drivers:

"No grip"



"How can this car be so bad???"

Hopefully, Jenson's barren patch won't be as bad as the one he had when he hit the skids last year.


Last year in Melbourne McLaren took pole and second position, and won the race, while Ferrari struggled with their new suspension and looked in dire straights. Ferrari went on to take second in the WDC and WCC, while McLaren lagged badly.

This year McLaren is struggling with that same Ferrari-type suspension, and Ferrari looks fast. Last year should have taught us that anything can happen, and that the first race teaches us little...


Tee hee. Yes, but there is one very key difference between the two. One driver is known to be able to thrash a car until it screams, just like Lewis can. The other can't extract a further ounce of performance out of a given car if there is an R in the month or if Saturn, Jupiter or Neptune are in Taurus, Gemini or Aries.


Unfortunately Jenson is no Fernando!

VP of Common Sense

I could understand your criticisms a bit more if Jenson actually built that car. McLaren's design team decided to go to the pull rod front suspension and change up the design. Button has nothing to do with that. Hamilton would do better with this McLaren but he'd still be 2 seconds off the Red Bull.


funny and well said


The McLaren has "no grip."


Unfortunately, they cant go back to the old car now!!


But the last car had reached a development ceiling supposedly..

unF1nnished business

Looks like McLaren's revolutionary step has taken to a very difficult balance-setup path. Hopefully they'll iron this out after few races.


The car could be designed with an eye on 2014. Come 2014, they could have a year head start over the other. They are a team I don't believe will do senseless thing


Why have McLaren taken a revolutionary step to the final year of this particular formula? They surely should have done this last year; the current car is only going to be written off for 2014 anyway.


Some believe that McLaren went pull rod to get used to what will be the most sensible suspension technology for 2014. However, in 2014, the pull rod will be used with much lower noses (to which it is suited), so McLaren and Ferrari using it to raise the cars nose is quite strange.


Perhaps some of their developments will benefit them under the new regs!


I think that is the point - this year's car is a test bed for ideas they have pulled from other teams. The front suspension from Ferrari, the rear of the Red Bull, the raised chassis of many other teams, etc. I think McLaren are expecting rules stability for a while after 2014, and want to get the radical testing over this season, knowing they can junk this car at the end of the year. They know it many hurt them this year, but with limited testing they know they have a lot of catching-up to do in other departments. The raised chassis in particular was one they were going to have to copy eventually, and AFAIK it would greatly affect their aero. They expect to take a hit early this year, and they will.

unF1nnished business

Perhaps the new rules in 2014 favour a pull rod suspension so MacLaren are having to play catchup in this direction. I believe Ferrari switched to pull rod in 2012 which is why the car was hard to setup/balance for the 1st few races so maybe MacLaren are going through the same learning curve.


Because they're in it to win it.

Everybody says Melbourne is a non-typical track so even if they fail to perform here it doesn't necessarily mean the season is down the drain.

On the other hand, they are experiencing the same issues Ferrari had last year. A car that is hard to understand. If they give up early on this season they could come back pretty strong next year.


Maybe theres some 2014 ideas implemented, with lack of testing, could be an idea? One of my friends thought Red Bull was doing this in Spain!


Maybe they are using the Pull-rod system, for the 2014 car, so want to get some experience in, by using it this year.

Otherwise, oh dear.


Well, obviously RB are rattled and are simply 'show-boating' to please their adoring followers and concerned sponsors.

The true contenders are simply keeping their powder dry.

McLaren will probably nail it tomorrow - 'jumpy over the bumps' - LoL! - doesn't fool me in the least.


Concerned sponsors??


no, They've left...


Yeah, sponsors.

RB F1's only a miniscule part of RB Sports Global. They don't perform and Mateschitz shifts their budget allocation into Synchronised Swimming or something else with similar universal market cachet.


I was thinking Aerobics.


Sandy, may I ask what you are mixing with your Red Bull this weekend? 🙂


Yeah, Red Bull looked rattled. McLaren certainly look the goods. Not...


I think Sandy Bagge is being sarcastic..


I think Sandy Bagge agrees with you!


Lol this isn't testing, this is practise, this is where you set the car up for qualifying and the race.

You don't run 2 seconds off the pace unless you're having a mere.

Red Bull front row, Lewis & Alonso second row for me.


It's a long season......McLaren have time!


Yeah, and the rest of the teams are going to wait for them, crashing their cars so they score too man points and end up too far ahead of McLaren, I bet! LOL


Of course, but the original comment reckons !McLaren will suddenly be quickest tomorrow.

McLaren need to be careful, as they no longer have Lewis to get them out of trouble when the car isn't quite there.

Jenson is not on the same level as Lewis, Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen


yes your right jesson aint sand bagging,only sand he be baggin is on bondi beach.you cant built a team round a slow driver,alonsa had a slow car last year, he drove out of his skin.

if u look at the practise times last year mclaren was at the top.how can u biuld a car when the driver says its got to much under/over steer all the time.a good drive compensates for this,button wants a perfect car,lewis is laughin his socks off.


funny. pretty good.


Sincerely hope you're right.

I'm on the verge of tears - my inerring ability to predict form has taken a dive in recent years. Bright side is most of the 'experts' get it wrong too so guess I'm in good company.


rosberg a quarter of a sec faster then ham

is that because hams car broke earlier???

other wise no one gave ros a chance

i thought it would be very close with ham just edgeing It

but if those times where the best they could do then this could be embarrassing for ham


And what does that say about Schumacher's pace last year?


I don't believe that Lewis ever set a time on the super softs. His first try was aborted when he went off, he then spend several minutes in the pits only to come out and have the crash. The data however showed that he was purple on his first try, and 2 tenths below Vettel's time in sector 1. So, Merc. might have something left as well.


and if Seb pushed his car to 'run off the track pace', he too would have been faster up to that point. Lewis was on a flyer because he was pushing to over 100%. Simple as that. The fact that he ran out of road and ability at the exact same time = failed lap.


Or it could be that his tea tray was gone, losing him many pts of downforce.


it was .006 faster not 2 full tenths


from the split sector time.

sector 2 3, Rosberg on soft run just as fast as Ham on medium.

Ham on soft, 1 st sector is same as Rosberg, but make some mistake in sec 2 3 on soft.

Ham's time is on 3rd lap of soft, if there is no mistake on the 1st lap, Ham should run a bit faster than Rosberg.

The same apply to Vettel, his time show in 3rd lap, his first run on sec 1 - 2 is faster than the time display but hit the traffic in sector 3, the time he did in 3 rd lap is a lot slower, sector 1 and 2 about 0.3 slower than his first try ,but still fastest of the day. If Vettel have no traffic in his 1st lap, he should be at least 0.3 faster than the time shown above.


@Steven h... The difference between Ros and Lew is that Ros got a proper soft tire run where as Lew went off on his run and ruined his tires, on the lap that Lew went off he was actually up on the Vet's time so it stands to reason he probably would have put in a faster lap than Ros if he had completed the lap.

In fact even with ruined tires (and a damaged splitter caused by his run off) he was still able to improve is time slightly next time around.


Hamilton didn't set a repersentative time on the super soft, as he locked a brake and had to back off. He was 0.001 seconds up on Vettels fastest first sector (at that point, can't remember if that was Vettels fastest lap of the whole session or not) on the lap he locked his breaks up.


You obviously did not watch any practice. Hamilton was on Mediums, while Rosberg was on Super-softs for the times recorded above. Hamilton was a tenth up on Seb's best posted time in the first sector when entering Turn 13 he went wide. He had been consistently faster than Rosberg, until the car experienced problems. The real story is not any inter-team battle between Rosberg vs Hamilton. It is that the Merc has made a significant step. Now what can they do with it?


I wouldn't worry about Hamilton, he looked like he had Rosberg in his pocket through both sessions.

Was well up on Rosberg's time in FP2 but ran wide which probably broke the splitter that caused the off in his next run.


Trying to hard perhaps.

You know, one thing we will learn this year is if Lewis can play the long game and if he hard on the equipment.

If he drives past the limits of the car, it may be fun to watch but not good on the hardware. I sometimes wondered if his driving style or harsh treatment of the car contributed to his failures last year. Another words, we blamed McLaren, but he pay have played a part in those failures by not looking after his equipment.


Look...it is just a general question in light of all the offs Lewis has had.

I am not claiming my point is right. Just wondering if his speed and perhaps failures are the consequence of his style. Just like a driver's style can contribute to tire use surely it can manifest itself at other equipment points.


Can you give me some example of " hard on equipment "

If he ride the curb, jump on the curb, then damage the suspension of floor, . . . that part of driver responsible.

but the failure of Gearbox, for Fuel pump . . . Driver can't do anything with it.

Driver can't over rev the engine or change gear on harder manner, . . . everything is electronic control the engine when you change the gear, it not the same as road car or saloon race car, that driver have to use the clutch and control the rev manually.


Haha that's a good one. Yeah, I can see how Lewis trying too hard would cause, for instance, fuel pressure problems like in Abu Dhabi. Yes, pressing on the throttle to get a fuel pump to do what it is supposed to do is a clear case of equipment abuse, right? Lewis must learn to look after parts that he controls on a secondary and tertiary basis, right?

I'm sure when a similar thing happened to Jenson you clearly thought that was equipment failure and not the driver's fault.

As for playing the long game, why do you think Lewis went to Merc? To blaze everyone in the first year??? Is that a good enough example of playing the long game for you?

Do you just select these thoughts at random?


Wasn't Hamilton faster in the first session?


No, that was not the best time Lewis could do. On his super-soft run he was slightly up on Vettel's time but then locked up and ran wide.


lewis didnt manage to do a quick lap because he made a mistake,he was quickest up until he made that mistake.it looked like he would have been very close to vettels time.


Is Mark Webber going to be our only chance of a competitive championship this year?!

This could be Jenson's chance to really step up and claim the team. They'll need him more than ever to motivate and lead them through a difficult start to the season, when they are maybe feeling vulnerable for several well publicised reasons. It will be interesting to see how he handles this challenge now.


I'm a Mark Webber / RBR fan but it's very early days yet. Also, Albert Park is a street circuit. Not much to go off here. Sepang will be a good test for all the teams to see how they might stack up. Seb's secret to success is qualifying on the front row. Others have just gotta step up and take that away from him to be in with a chance.


"Step up and claim the team"?

If you've been reading the press and Jenson's own words, he's already done that, no? The team is supposed to be well and truly in his pocket now, no? Locked down, and his to own until his retirement, no? In fact, hasn't he sprayed his scent all over Woking, the MP4-28, and every engineer in the team?

Well, given the Team's record of screwing up - he's welcome to that. And given how poor the MP4-28 is looking - he's welcome to that too. The MTC is very nice though, maybe he shouldn't destroy that.


He has inherited a lead role but hasn't yet been put to the test in that role. For all we know young Pez might trounce him. A poor car at the beginning of the season ideally needs strong leadership from Jenson to keep the team sweet. Even if he's not winning he can do himself proud. Though personally I don't rate him particularly highly relative to the other champs.

No no no? Yes? 🙂


They lost the shield to hide behind over the last couple of years. Lewis isn't there anymore to drag the car around the track , and take the blame for anything wich goes wrong.

They don't have his set ups, and his telemetry to sort jB s set ups out


I'm glad people are FINALLY opening their EYES...

Lewis can be difficult at times but he's the best natural talent out there He's taken the blame for some McLaren mishaps, he's led teh car in such highest places than it deserved to be, that you'd think why this team behaved like that and parted way!! Unbelievable!

I'm speechless at McLaren since 2010! Perez gotta be strong here because his team-mate is a 'snake' and drawn the team in a blind alley again! Now Paddy Lowe has been marginalized and MP4-28 is poopoo! LOL ! I want Mercedes to beat them so bad, they'll learn a lesson amaybe how to treat WDC champions better! Sebastian 's talent is well protected and nurtured at RedBull; instead we have this F1 team losing the plot and getting a bad reputation because pride is too strong -can't back up the best driver who had a shot at title- and a TP who only knows to smile and pally pally attitude around the paddock! Luca De Montezemolo, Fabio Briatore even Boss Ron Dennis if present would have already kicked out ''who were under-performing''

Wht happened to ''we exist to win'' motto?!

A gutted McLaren fan since 1995.



Webber for WDC!


James no mention of the Ferraris speed in the first session? Massa was really close to Vettel with Alonso right behind.




I was baffled by Hamilton's decision to join Mercedes when it was announced. However, what a good move that's looking to be now.

VP of Common Sense

It was two practice sessions. We'll get a better picture once the grid is set. Mercedes may qualify well but I think their race pace against Red Bull and Ferrari will suffer. We've all seen McLaren recover their form in development and we've all seen Mercedes struggle mightily over the past 3 years. Don't be so convinced that things have changed.


Your right, but in my view your missing the fundamental problem. Mclaren always find a way of messing things up. They have won 1 drivers title since 1999.

Mclaren are too clever for there own good and whilst a great team not necessarily a team that as a driver your going to achieve great success with.


And instead Mercedes has a different car in 2013! They won't under-perform again! they're getting serious about F1 commitment!

There's still time to make up some ground for Macca but if Red Bull has the championship sewn on their suit again like in 2011, McLaren can not do anything will be too late!

Don't understand why they have chosen a radical route!


Wow - is Sutil showing-up di Resta?

Pretty impressive that Sutil has hit the ground running.


I think Di Resta may have had an off and broken something, but even then, 9/10s is a rather large differential for a guy that spent a year out of the car, and very stressed during most of it. Prior to Lux-gate, I always thought if anything Sutil was a bit too metrosexual and not aggressive enough. I think his off track adventures may have hardened him up to the better. I love a comeback story, so he has become my mid-field driver to root for this year...


good point! he's a fine driver....i for one am very glad to see him back. not surprised he's putting DiResta on the backburner. i think he will, all season.


Always interesting to see people's reactions to facts, most seem to still believe what they want to believe !

James, you notably did not comment on Mercedes race pace... Are there still some tyre wear concerns, abeit better than '12 ?

Also, I seem to remember that Albert Park is not a good indicator of form, or a good RBR track, but still, like others, worry there could be no competition for the WDC again this year. Given a RBR with 0.5 or more advantage, Seb will stroll to it, Webber may even manage to sew up P2 relatively easily as well.


No points for being quickest yet, see who looks after the tyres the best


no points for looking after the tyres either


Agreed but no point having a super quick car that chews up tyres, we will have a good idea after 20 laps on sunday


Nice start! 'll enjoy Guinness while watching event, cheers!


As a matter of interest, were Ferrari running with upgrades to the car. I remember Pat Fry saying they had big upgrades to be fitted on at Melbourne, Malaysia and china. Just wondering


I'm a long time McLaren fan but I'm tired of seeing them go down a different (revolutionary this year) design path and end up having to launch a B spec car (or close) by the middle of the year. As is the case over last few years, RB would by then be so far ahead in terms of points that McLaren are left fighting for the 2nd or 3rd spot.

Whitmarsh needs to stop stressing on how well Macca out develop other teams during the course of the season and instead, work on getting the car right from winter testing. I was pretty much sure about RB's pace this year but Mercedes, Lotus also look quick and the McLaren seems to be way off the times set by these 2 and Ferrari. Hoping McLaren fix the car by the 3rd or 4th race.


It is generally Whitmarsh's style to emphasise the positives. I'm guessing he thinks that the most effective way to lead McLaren. If you look at many of the post race interviews in 2011 when Vettel was winning all the time, Whitmarsh would say the McLaren's were the fastest cars out there. He was often right, especially if you look at laps times in the second half of the race, but Vettel had the race won in the second half of the stint.

He's effectively saying "you guys are the best team of designers on the grid - keep doing the great job you're doing and we will win". He's obviously not going to say the opposite, but he could say nothing at all. He is publicly praising his staff. Do you prefer it when your boss tells other people you are doing a good job, or would you prefer he or she just told you and no one else? For most people they'd prefer to hear the former, especially if it is an honestly held opinion.

While Whitmarsh has an engineering background, he does not design the cars. He would have a big influence on the resources put towards the 2013 car compared to continuing developing the 2012 car and investigating the 2014 car. McLaren started detailed work on the 2013 cars earlier than Red Bull and Ferrari. Logically that seems to be a positive. The car is less evolutionary than its rivals. That has risks and the positives are not guaranteed when the team talks about more development potential.

McLaren has made the fastest or second fastest car for the last six years with the exception of 2009 (even then it ended the year with the second best car to the Red Bull). That to me suggests that as team principle Martin Whitmarsh has done a pretty good job at providing the engineering department with the resources it needs.

His management of the drivers is much more about human emotions and there, despite all the claims made here, none of are close enough to really know. Strategy and race engineering will again be relatively subjective, but again I doubt any deficiencies are due to a lack of resources.

Sacking the CEO for "accountability" all seems nice, but it is of little benefit if the CEO is doing a good job.


Welcomeback to 2011


Please fast-forward me to 2014 in that case!


Ferrari and Lotus looked especially strong on the used super softs. Alonso was lapping in the low 1:33" on tyres that were over 20 laps old.

By contrast, Vettel was into the 1:34" bracket after 14 laps. He has outright single lap pace, but I don't see him going the distance on tyre life.

2 stops (SS, SS, M) could well be an option for Ferrari & Lotus.

And about that notorious Melbourne weather, here is the official forecast for Melbourne for Saturday:

Min 16

Max 22

Showers, mainly afternoon.

Chance of any rain: 80%

Rainfall amount: 6 to 15 mm

"Cloudy. A shower or two developing late morning before showers become widespread during the afternoon. Light winds becoming west to southwesterly 15 to 20 km/h in the morning then becoming southwesterly 25 to 35 km/h in the middle of the day."


Min 13

Max 20

Shower or two.

"Partly cloudy. Isolated showers. Winds southwesterly 25 to 35 km/h turning southerly 25 to 40 km/h before dawn then decreasing to 15 to 20 km/h in the evening."


Here's how I see the pit stops:









It is a long season. And it is only one practice session.


True, but seeing a car that's terrifyingly well balanced and extremely planted to the track, especially from turns 11 - 15, means we likely have another MP4/4, FW14B, F2004, RB7 on the track.


Oh dear, not good at McLaren.. How could they get it so wrong?


Same way Ferrari did this time last year with the same suspension. And they finished what, second in both the WDC and WCC?


Yeah I hope they can recover I'm a fan, but with a new driver and no Alonso things are looking troubling.


Only because McLaren kept shooting themselves in the foot with realiability and bad pitstops.



After a winter of Ferrari claiming that they would not be running their definite Melbourn Spec until Melbourne can you confirm if they have bolted anything new on to their car yet?


Red Bull and Vettel most likely needed to set a fast time, because they couldn't get their setup right in Barcelona. If this is the case, we might continue to see deceptively fast times throughout testing from Red Bull, while other teams (e.g. Ferrari and maybe Merc and Lotus) sandbag.

The truth usually comes out in free practice 3, but most emphatically in in Q3.

I really believe that the Ferrari is the fastest car this time around. Alonso's skills could make a huge difference this year; however (long shot), but I'd love for Lewis to win it. He is the best of the lot.


You are going to be very disappointed.


At this point it's not testing, it's racing. No way teams are sandbagging at this point. Why would they? What would they gain? They are trying to make their cars as fast as possible, set them up for the race, and get on with it. If you are 2.5 seconds off the pace at this point you are in serious trouble. Remember that cars go to parc ferme after qualifying and no changes are allowed to settings, so teams are setting the cars up for the race as well as qualifying.


Lewis the best of the lot? Thats a nice dream.


McLaren aint sandbagging. 🙁


mclaren have spent the summer on the beach,when you see the team they all look very sun tanned,or maybe they have something up their long trouser leg.


Well this is incredibly depressing.


That depends on who you're supporting.

- Red Bull fans are sitting back and smiling smugly.

- Ferrari fans are breathing a sigh of relief.

- Merc fans are grinning from ear to ear. Those who recently joined from the McLaren fan base are punching the air.

- And McLaren fans, those who didn't like Lewis, as well as those who did but opted to stay with the Stooge team of F1, are doing their best to convince themselves that the team is still better off without Lewis. No driver is bigger than the team, right?


It's possibly significant that McLaren have followed Ferrari down the route of pull-rod front suspension. The difference this makes in car set-up obviously troubled the scuderia last year and it may be that McLaren have found the same drawback on the ground despite some (presumed) theoretical gains.


McLaren have previous when 'going radical'.

Anyone remember the MP4/10 or MP4/18?

They had the best car at the end of 2012, why not evolve it?


Have you abandoned the race strategy calculator, James ?

It was a great facility.


It was sure an impressive showing by Red Bull but a couple of points.

1) Red Bull aren't that confident of their car for they have never shown their hand in free practice like this.

2) Lewis believes Mercedes can compete with Red Bull and seeing as Rosberg finished FP2 4 tenths off, this would indicate perhaps Red Bull were running with less fuel.

Anyway, by the looks of it, it appears we shall have the fantastic four going for it with Mclaren a little off the pace >>> yes, they will need a Spanish upgrade just like Ferrari last year.

Also the early signs indicate that our JA on F1 was right in that Force India maybe the strongest midfield team this season.

As for Williams, Maldonado isn't too confident about their pace >>> Again, it's always a bad idea to skip any winter test session.

At the back of the grid, Marussia's Jules appears to be cementing himself as the number 1 driver.


1) what makes you sure they've shown their hand? They could be hiding a 2s advantage by only showing 4 tenths of their advantage.

2) no, this doesn't indicate that. 4tenths off in practice means 4 tenths off in practice. It bears no bearing on whatever fuel each car had.

These superstition posts of yours are getting out of hand goferet


are u sure about this


C'mon Webbo, you need to beat SV !


i'm a big fan of Mark...but, he can't and won't. SV is quicker 9 times out of 10.


Now considering we expect the showers for tomorrow's qualifying, hell, anything is possible >>> be out on track and just about the right time and anybody could pole it.

As for Ferrari, it appears the team is struggling to get performance out of the super soft tyre for Alonso was able to set faster time on the medium than the super soft >>> I don't know, could have been a set up issue.

Meanwhile Mercedes must be sitting pretty reliability-wise for the best time to get into trouble is a Friday.

Actually today is similar to the Jerez test Day 1 where both Mercedes challengers had issues only to have trouble free days for the rest of the winter championship.


With regard to McLaren, yes it is funny how commentators really liked it at the launch! But McLaren themselves admitted through testing things were amazing. I remember Gary Anderson complaining of Ferrari's front pull-rod suspension last year, especially with it being slow initially, but this year he's been more praising of McLaren's choice of it.

It puzzled me as soon as they said about how, though they finished last season with one of the quickest cars they said they wanted to new design to offer a greater development path. In a year of stable regulations, surely if they were nearing the end of a development curve last year with a very quick car, then that isn't a bad thing? It almost sounds like they were saying, let's try and do a different philosophy and see if we can reach the same performance, and a little more, developing along this new path, almost as if for fun?! It doesn't make much sense to me.

Secondly, it's a year when so much development will need to go into 2014, so why give yourselves a mammoth development journey of a new design path instead of focussing on putting fewer resources into tweaking something that already worked well and instead putting in more energy to avoid reliability and operational errors. Their media stance on this has confused me since day 1.

It looks like Mercedes and McLaren have switched places this year, which is good news for Lewis!

As to Vettel, well the testing analysis did say Red Bull were leading.


Exactly what I think.

by mid year, if this car is not fast enough, the probably have to give up this car to focus on next year car. If they still try to develop this car, the wiould not get the good car for this year and next year.

Make the whold new car to learn new thing, and can use it just for 1 year, guite crazy. if last year car is very slow, OK to make the new one with new concept. but last year car is one of the fastest car, why don't they do thing from the already good platform.

with JB, how the engineer will develop the car, they just get the comment of Ovesteer, Understeer . . . that it. last year when JB has just set up problem, they still don't know how to correct it from JB input, JB input just make the car getting worse , then just change to Lewis set up, JB problem gone. but now they got car problem, not just set up, team need accurate driver to develop the car which is not JB, JB can drive the already good car but can't point the problem when the car is not good.


Well quite. Even if they manage to end up with a great car by season end, if it takes till mid season to develop up then Championships are likely lost, so what's the point?

With regard to JB setup and development queries, I tend to not look too deeply into such comments. Firstly, we only get a snippet of info, so behind the scenes there's surely more detail then Jenson going "understeer", "oversteer", in a sort of Team America "Matt Damon!" type of way!

I also question how much a driver can really develop a car. They provide feedback for sure, but engineering concepts are solution are done by those with expertise in mathematics, physics, materials, etc. It's a science. It would be off to say, 'Oh Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen are great car development drivers because they are in top cars, whereas the folk at the back of the grid are rubbish and can't direct their team".


The Driver that help develop the car, . . . doesn't mean the driver help engineer to design the car or tell the engineer how to develop or modify the car.

How to design or make some modification is totally the engineer job. . . but engineer need the accurate and consistent driver, engineer must trust the driver who can drive the car at very near the limit.

When engineer made some change to the car, when they want to know if it work, they need the feedback from driver. if the car get slower, they will be sure if won't work, with out any suspicious of driver ability.

The driver that can drive sometime fast, sometime slow, . . . this made some headache to the engineer.

The driver like Lewis, Alonso, Vettel , Kimi as you mention is always clearly faster than their teammate on pure pace and the engineer team can trust all of them. . . . engineer want the driver that can show the full potential of the car.

When engineer find the last bit of the car, they need 0.1- 0.2 from the car, not like 1 sec diff that any driver can tell the difference. in case of Lewis vs JB, there always been at least 0.2 - 0.3 between them, so the faster one drive 99% near the limit while the other just 90%

This year, if McLaren in JB hand is 0.2 slower than RB+Vettel. . . . Do you think the engineer really want to accept that his car is slower than RB, they will always suspect that if Mc is in the Lewis hand, our car should be faster than RB.

as the record show, how many time that JB can get close to Lewis under 0.2 sec, not too often, . . . mostly at 0.3 - 0.5 by average. . . . How the engineer will talk to the boss, blame the Car or Driver? . . . Engineer or Driver false. . . . Car or Driver is not fast enough.

If Mc+JB is as fast as RB, the engineer team will always think that McLaren should get the Dominance car with Lewis, which give some smile to the engineer team.

If JB blame the car . . . Do you think, the engineer really want to accept that blame?

Let JB as benchmark, if Perez is not clearly faster than JB, he can't be the top driver. . . . McLaren put their hope on Perez, not JB . . . . If McLaren have to trade JB for Vettel, Kimi, Alonso . . . they will do it right away.

JB is good race driver to bring team the result, but not so good in engineer view. Lewis is big loss for McLaren.

That why, Top teams always need the Top Driver . . . Why Mecedes buy the most expensive Lewis, they want to skip the unsure factor of driver.

3 yr ago, They brought Schu back because they don't know the exact quality of Rosberg, they think Schu is more accurate driver to develop their car but disappointing, sometime fast, sometime slow. They buy Lewis is not because Lewis is the fastest man in the world but because Lewis is proved that he is consistently fast driver, good to develop their car, no matter he is faster or slower than Rosberg, Mercedes engineer need some benchmark in their team, they really want to know the limit of their car.

Rosberg probably already drive the limit, but they still have the question, is that really the limit. if they bring someone else like Sutil, Di Resta, Hulk . . . the question still be there.

They bring in Lewis to answer that question, engineer need someone like Vettel, Alonso, or Kimi to prove it, all of them have driven the very good car so they can tell the difference and what is missing in the car, and only Lewis is available at the moment.

They pay Lewis at very high rate, they not stupid to pay for his name, they will lose more money for develop the car without some proving, that why the money they pay more to Lewis is a lot less than they loss in wrong development.

At Lotus, Grosjean is as fast or faster than Kimi, but they don't like to let Kimi go anywhere.

When Kimi go to Ferrari, he haven't been World Champion, Why Ferrari pay him a lot for non world champion driver ? . . more than JB get as WDC . . . Kimi is considered as Top Driver before he get the World Champion, he don't even talk to much to the engineer, but they can trust his driving, and let the stop watch and data log tell them the result of development.

This should answer about the meaning of driver that develop the car.


As I mentioned in another answer, maybe McLaren are using the pull-rod system for the 2014 car, and want to get some experience in, by using it for their 2013 car.


Queue Jenson complaining about no grip.


On the point of Lotus' amazing race pace, am not sure it will do them any good.

I mean, we saw so many instances last season were Lotus' race pace was nullified by poor qualifying performances.


For the first time in my life I'm going to place a bet on Kimi to win the championship. Just remember how good Kimi was last year, despite poor qualifying.


I dont understand the Mclaren bashing. They have been quite honest during winter testing saying they have fundamentally changed the car as they believed they were reaching the end of the natural development cycle of last years car.

Most of the current teams bar Sauber and Williams have an evolution of last years car meaning they know how to setup the car to get the best out of it. I would be more inclined to form a judgement once at least 3 Grand Prix have been contended before declaring the new Mclaren to be a disaster.

P.s. I'm a Ferrari fan, not Mclaren 🙂


Red Bull The Kings of Sandbagging But Hey Guys We already Know This ......Right


Hold on:

a) This is going to be a close season, teams will develop ahead and behind their rivals;

b) Melbourne is not always a good indicator of speed at other tracks;

c) How many times have we seen fast Melbourne practice times, only for some other team to have the edge on Saturday?

d) Having said all that, Buttons comments are concerning, they look like they have a way to go;

e) But that doesn't mean that Mercedes and Ferrari won't have the edge.

All I'm saying is that Melbourne Friday practice is rarely any better an indicator of speed than the final Barcelona test. Watch this space.


mclaren were fastest last year on friday and went on to win


McLaren could really struggle this season. It's times like these that they need Lewis to get every last bit of performance out of the car. Qualifying will not go well for them, I said that's where they needed to improve when they launched the car


hey they opening offer to Lewis was a pay cut because they got Jenson.hippy..that bravado was based on Button coming a distant 2nd in the championship,a year when Lotus and Ferrari were off the pace and LEWIS was having an of year,and Mclaren was simply the 2nd best,and at that stage Vettel had locked up the championship and coasting

Last year there were times when Lewis was taking pole and wining races, while Button couldnt get out of q2.he went 5 races scoring 5 points.thats a year that Mclaren had the fastest car...well based soley on Lewis performance.

so therefore this car might not be sooo bad.Button is like an artist who doesnt know when his project is done,in his search for perfection and balance, he looses his way.with Hamilton as a bench mark the potential of the car was known and the engineers can reel Button in.now they just lost....DID you hear Witmarsh how confused they were...no grip understeer...oversteer

Imagine Buttons bad spell last year,if it wasnt for LEWISS PERFORMANCE we would have said the Mclaren was a dog....Much like we saying now!!!

so do the math


Correct about Button, she sucks.


I don't understand what your on at me about? Read my comment again, I'm saying exactly what I think you're trying to say in your last paragraph. Without Lewis' performance they could struggle.

What's this math you want me to do?


Not just for getting every last bit of performance out of the car, but more crucially, for setup.

I believe that McLaren has problems now, because they lack drivers with the setup skills needed to get the best out of the car.


Well well done Red Bull, they do look fast!

But Kudos to Force India and Sutil! we are looking like the fastest midfield team and being a second faster than the Mclaren in P2. Sutil looking as fast as ever! roll on tomorrow hopefully Force India can get 1 car in the Top ten in Quali


Its probably a bit early (given mercs failure to.develop last year's car) but lewis looks smart with his move. Maybe he knew this


James you do believe when McLaren committed to such a revolutionary design, they knew they'd only have Button as a seasoned driver to develop it?


I am surprised Red Bull is this far ahead at the moment. We'll see more during qualifying tomorrow. Kimi is in a good spot at the moment. I'm curious to see how well the Mercedes will work in the race.


This far ahead? Just a couple of tenths. In Friday practice.

People are talking like they set a time 2 seconds faster than the rest in qualifying or something.


I really feel sorry for the boys at McLaren and the McLaren fans. In 2012, they had the fastest car very much throughout the year and yet, they were nowhere in the Championship.

One would expect them to continue the great form after winning the last race in a dominant manner. However, they seem to be struggling but I believe it is far too early to say since the track is changing and it is not Sunday yet.

Looking forward to the 2013 premiere! I have a feeling the Vettel vs. Alonso rivalry continues as if there were no winter break. Plus, there may be rain on Sunday...


in 2012 they had the fastest car IN QUALIFYING for some of the year, it was rarely the fastest in the race and their reliability was among the worst on the grid (not to mention the teams shambolic operational performance).

Now they seem to be more interested in what their mechanics are wearing than designing a race winning car.

Hamilton did the right thing getting out of there when he did.


So after quite a bit of criticism about moving to Mercedes, Hamilton's move looks a little inspired.



It takes a very brave soul to predict the future in F1. Its a sport that is notoriously fickle about predictions based on past success; for example, the dreadful 2009 happened to McLaren, so soon after their WDC in 2008.


Nope, Mercedes always starts off a season strong, then to be fighting the midfield teams midseason, while breaking down.

Business as usual at Mercedes so far.


Interestingly, looking at the paces set by the back teams, it looks as if they are going to have another close battle this year, maybe with Marussia just having the edge this time.


Can anyone catch Red Bull already. Designers and Engineers have had 3 seasons now to replicate what works. Why can't anyone make it work. I have to start believing Red Bull has a concealed illegal device that the FIA can't find or has ignored.


dont you know red bull gives you wings?


I really hope this is not going to be a repeat of 2011, otherwise I will switch off. Tired of the finger already!!!

Time for other teams to play fast and loose with the spirit of the rules just like RB have this last 3 years.

Also want to see Vet in a less than optimal car to see how he really compares to the Hams Alo Rai 's


Here's what the RBR drivers are really saying when they complain about their KERS: "I just tried the secret little rocket motor thingie and it worked just fine."



Flexi wings/Nose cone and exhaust tricks!


Red Bull's success is based on team-work. they've had a stable design department with some of the best in the field. they've also got one of the 3 best drivers and absolutely one of the best and most consistent pit crews (tho not always fastest) ergo..victory!

so tired, of RB conspiracy theories! believe what you will! they are simply the best TEAM!


McLaren had the fastest car last season so clearly a team does not need Newey to be fastest.


Have we all forgoten already the leason from the last season? It can change a lot from one race to another. I don't say RB is not the fastest. But this is just the first race. Anyway, let's wait until tomorrow and see what the weather is going to be like. The weather can play a big role in who wins this race.


This is a new race and new season. Red Bull looked better today than they did in the same race last year. Besides McLaren performance today was very poor. I read that Jenson Button is hoping for rain tomorrow to see if that is any help. Mercedes showed problems in both cars today at the end of the second practice. Lotus and Ferrari seem in good shape. But nobody can´t beat RB only with good shape.


Red Bull seem to be the fastest, but I think that Mercedes are not too far behind at all. Ferrari and Lotus seem to have a similar pace, but behind Red Bull and Mercedes.

However, it is not a good story for McLaren. They were in struggle street, and I have nothing that will put a smile on Button's face. He was completely dejected when talking to the world's media. They will struggle to get into Q3, and will struggle to get into the points.

Force India seemed to be decent, especially in the hands of Sutil, possibly ahead of McLaren. Sauber is behind them after having a challenging day. Toro Rosso had the wrong setup in Practice 1, and in Practice 2, Ricciardo was quite good, with Vergne making some strange errors. Williams were lost all day long, so a lot of work to do there.

Now to the back of the grid, the Marussia car in the hands of Bianchi was quite good, destroying Chilton. This will continue to happen all season long. Caterham were not so good, and the debate between pay drivers vs performance drivers will continue to rage in this case.

If it is dry tommorrow, I think it will be a Red Bull vs Mercedes battle for pole position, with Ferrari and Lotus being good fixtures in Q3. Sutil for Force India seems a good tip to get into Q3, with Hulkenberg and Button battling to get into Q3.

Grid Prediction (Dry)

1. S. Vettel

2. L. Hamilton

3. M. Webber

4. N. Rosberg

5. F. Alonso

6. K. Raikkonen

7. R. Grosjean

8. F. Massa

9. A. Sutil

10. N. Hulkenberg

11. J. Button

12. P. di Resta

13. S. Perez

14. P. Maldonado

15. D. Ricciardo

16. E. Gutierrez

17. V. Bottas

18. J-E. Vergne

19. J. Bianchi

20. C. Pic

21. M. Chilton

22. G. van der Garde

What do you think James?


Q3 finished Ryan and you got an amazing 2 out of 22 correct!


Q2 finished Ryan and 11 of 12 wrong so far, not looking good for your genius is it?


That's qualy 1 ran 4 wrong of 5 so far!


4) Kimi

5) Rosberg

6) Alonso


If Lotus chooses to do the Q3 with soft tires.


Too early to say this in my view.

VP of Common Sense

Alonso ahead of the both Mercedes as well. Red Bull will lock out the front row but Alonso will be on the inside of row 2. Ferrari will start strong on Sunday.


Ryan do you win the lottery most weeks?.....Just wondering! Pretty bold arguably stupid to try and predict a whole grid...Bet you have at least 13 wrong!


Looks like a good prediction for the grid, although as James has pointed out I'd expect Webber to be ahead of Hamilton. I also fancy Massa to be a bit higher than 8th.

RE: Caterham. They genuinely don't seem to be making any progress at the moment. Both of Tony Fernandes' sporting ventures are having an absolute nightmare of it at the moment and he's making some very strange decisions.


Webber ahead of Hamilton


And Rosberg, I don't see Hamilton out qualifying Rosberg in the first few races.


Margin was 0.436 sec for Hamilton, on the supersofts.

Phil H 1-0 Dren


I think Lewis will outqualify Nico by a 0.3 sec margin. He looked good on the supersofts before getting off the track. What's your prediction :p?


they are that fast?damn


In that case the race is going to be a boring Vettel monologue.


Rosberg, too.


lol nice pun James


Ooh. Looks like Sutil is going to give Di Resta a real run for is money. Thought that having a years break might throw him behind for the first couple of races but he does look rather racey.

Also can't wait to see who will be the fastest out of the mercedes pairing.

So much to look forward to. Just cannot wait any longer.


Lol at everyone over internet panicking already and the ones who always diminish Vettel using the same old red herring arguments again.

And it was just day 1 of practice.


Don't worry whichever car Seb drives it'd do well and whichever team mate he drives against he will beat them, its funny how all the Hamilton fans have turned on Mclaren considering what Mclaren has done for this boy, Mercedes will not develop as well as Ferrari or Mclaren they will fall back and Rosberg could beat Hamilton if he can keep good form throughout the season.



Thank you for the article, again very comprehensive. I am hoping you could answer a question for me...

I've been reading various forums and message boards of McLaren fans praying for a return of the MP4-27 (maybe in "B" spec) until the test after the "flyaway" races, is this a possibility for McLaren to limit the damage by being so far off the pace currently!


No, chassis has been homologated, so as far as I am aware they cannot go back. Also it wouldn't be competitive.

Tornillo Amarillo

About McLaren, it was reported early this year that Button wanted to influence the car design for gaining the upper hand in the Team... Well, now they are in trouble, but I imagine listening from time to time this year "P11 is not too bad because you can chose tires".

Better than expected: Sutil. Last year for Di Resta?

I am not worry for Vettel in P1, but Webber in P2...


Anyways, looks like Vettel is 4 times WDC.

Season is done!

Bring on 2014!!!! 🙂


You can almost hear the groans from fans around the world. Its all about race pace though so dont rule out the Ferrari.


I was trackside today and the McLaren nose was very twitchy, the whole car looked unbalanced. Reminded me of the williams of 04/05. The RB and Lotus looked the best followed by Merc and Ferrari.


It's a shame the Red Bull looks like a nasty scrunched up packet of sweeties. Appropriate to the foul drink that bears it'd name I guess.


oh dear I woke this moring and thought I had time treavelled back to 2011?

I get this sinking feeling that the bulls are going to dominate - season over

Great to see the rest of the field so tight and merc right up there

dear oh dear, Mclaren what have you done, ditching that great car from last year for pull rod suspension, I'm sure thier issues are a lot more complex but one would have thought Ferrari bucking the trend last year and all the handling problems they had would be enough to send some alarm bells

To all those persons who said "hamilton dont move dont move, your throwing your career away etc" ha ha ha ha


McLaren will win races in 2013. But they are further back at this stage than they expected.


I can dare to say...Mercedes will win more races than McLaren this year, that's for sure...


Still far too early to make such a prediction.


I´m afraid they won´t. Ferrari last year had Alonso so they could win a few races and many podiums and points.McLaren doesn´t even have Hamilton to at least try to accomplish the same as Ferrari.

Mike from Colombia

James, are you willing to take the Bob McKenzie bet of 2005 ?

- but this time you have to do it if McLaren don't win a race !


I have a feeling Massa will outqualify Alonso. Alonso's form isn't looking good.


Me too! I want that to happen because Fernando loses his cool sometimes and we're yet to see that other side of him translated on track...The last race s of 2012 he was getting beaten by Felipe!


Not even one qualifying session has been finished for 2013. Already we have people here want

alonso to be Out qualified

Come on people get real. couple of practice sessions massa looks ok. Alonso is not in form ?

I expect nothing other than 17-2 or 16-3 thrashing for massa by alonso



I used this word to describe the Red Bull form at the first test February 8th (look for yourself if you don;t believe it: http://deancassadyf1.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/2013-feb-08-first-test-first-thoughts/ ).

James, you certainly have it right!

For Red Bull, it seems business as usual; unfortunately for Mark Webber, it means he is in second, about 2 tenths back, then everybody else, behind.

As mentioned before on these pages, tire degradation will be AT LEAST as important a factor as last season. It looks, here in Melbourne, that it will be more important than last year.

It will be very interesting to see a day time high temperature of 18 degrees, if forecasts are correct, come race day, and how this affects the tire enigma.

Kimi and Lotus, in general, look strong.

I think Ferrari still have systemic issues, but both drivers, now, I expect, can pull things out of the bag, if all the staars are aligned.

Mercedes is for real; but I still don't think they have the lap-over-lap tire management of Lotus; that being said, Hamilton can always make things happen, and I believe that this is the last chance for Nico Rosberg; he has the technical ability, now he just has to capitalize on it. There is no reason that Nico can't race point-for-point with Lewis, and this should be a great in-house duel (on top of the best photo op on the grid).

Great post, James; keep them coming!

VP of Common Sense

You we're doing well until you ignored the last 3 years for a few weeks of low fuel running in testing for Mercedes. The car has decent qualifying pace, but on full tanks it's not very fast. Ferrari are far better placed than most believed. 2013 should be much closer than most believed.


I think you can now see the prescience of my comment, now that Kimi has won, Ferrari were close, Vettel-Red Bull strong, and Lewis-Mercedes, indeed for real, but not able to match the lap-over-lap race pace of Kimi-Lotus.

Though modest, I am gratified to see the driver I think is the best in the world, winning the first race.

I don't think we've seen the 'normal' race pace of Red Bull.

I'm still not convinced of the ultimate comparative position of Ferrari; they seem close, but if anything, I think the conditions at Melbourne may have flattered them slightly.

Great comment; I'll look forward to seeing more of ou in the future.


I really do not understand the flak that McLaren is under, in every Comments section on all F1 sites I read. They were honest during the testing, they did not expect to have a quick/fast car. In the 25 years of following F1 I learned that some teams are never to be underestimated and all teams have ups and down whatever the caliber.

Let's just wait a couple of races to get a clearer picture. For the moment, the first signs are that Red Bulls are the ones to beat, Ferrari + Merc + Lotus are close, McLaren seem to be having the second dud in 5 years, Sauber + Williams + Force India seem to be set for a season long threesome, Marussia and Caterham will have a long and torrid affair in 2013.


Hopefully another whooping for alonso! haha, i still remember his dejected face after the race two years ago!


Very encouraged by Hamilton's pace.....before he went off during practice #2, Lewis's time was faster than Vettel in the first section.


A lot of people didn't notice this. He's right there .Seb will have the edge tomorrow though, but the season is long and consistency is key.


Before everyone gets too over excited about Mercedes pace an Hamilton's inspired move to the team you need to remember this time last year Schumacher was 3rd fastest in FP1 and fastest in FP2. Early days


The real answer will come in the race. Schumacher & Rosberg didn't score at all last year.

Of course, people also forget that Alonso went off in Q2, or Vettel in FP3. But both scored useful points on race day.


Well yes, but that W03 was fundamentally flawd, so far no indication that's the case with the W04. There are reasons for optimism.


I would seriously enjoy a fantasy F1 league here on these pages.

But looking at all these predictions, I think we're already there!

I want to see everyone come back here Sunday night and admit where and why they all went so wrong!

And btw St Patty's Day activities are not an excuse!


At the risk of turning into a nay-sayer, I would point out that how cars are performing on the first day of running on a street circuit which is still very much "green" isn't much of an indicator of form at the best of times. Coming off the back of a series of tests where tyre performance has been all over the place and data hard to come by, it's even less so. Certainly it looks very much like Red Bull are on very strong form indeed, but beyond that I wouldn't want to call any of the other positions on the grid. Given another day of number-crunching and set-up changes, much of the grid could end up in a completely different order by qualifying.


I would not rule out a top 4 finish for the Mclaren squad. Do you remember Ferrari 2012?


Non of their drivers are named Alonso or Hamilton...


Do you remember McLaren doesn´t have Alonso and not even Hamilton to pull that off?


P.S I'm not a Mclaren fan at all!)


There were never any serious doubts concerning Red Bull except for how far ahead they really were. It looks like Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes will be in with a chance of joining them on the steps on Sundays. McLaren are in the weeds. They have designed a car that is difficult and time consuming for their mechanics to work on. They might struggle for a set-up every race. Button won't be of much help.


If it's not raining I won't watch- no point watching the Red Bulls go around and around, lap after lap with no competition around them...


There is no competition mate when it comes to machinery against RBR

My wonder Newey has produced another rocket ship here RB9

Vettel could have done a 1:25:400. There is plenty of pace still left in RBR

Only rain can stop a RBR front row lock out tomorrow. I often wonder how newey comes up with quickest cars year after year

Today vettel and webber had no grrip problems at all RB9 looked very planted and has plenty of down-force. While lotus and Mercedes looks good for P3 to P6


Did you notice vettel stopping FP3...that is a sign of weakness in the rocket ship.


I miss any part on STR/FI/WILLIAM and SAuber in the piece.


It's quite obvious that McLaren know they have to repeat 2009 with Jenson... that is build a car that is 1 second a lap quicker then the rest of the field... Jenson will flop in a competitive car - he needs an extra second to be competitive.

This desperate state of affairs and the total lack of quality feedback from Jenson has taken McLaren development down the toilet.

McLaren, under the guidance of Whitmarsh, made a fatal mistake in letting Hamilton go, while thinking Button was some kind of car developer.

All hell is going to break loose in McLaren - heads must roll... Whitmarsh will be first on the chopping block.


McLaren under the guidance of Dennis made a fatal mistake of letting Alonso go. You could trace all of it all the way back there. That was their highest point, having Alonso and Lewis in a same team and they managed to go steadily down from there. They lost the best two drivers and they've lost their two technical directors. One followed Alonso, the other followed Hamilton.


Vettel's best time Friday was almost a full second off last year's pole position time, in cars of very similar specifications.


They can only use DRS on designated areas this year, same as in the race last year.


Vettel for pole, Raikkonen or Alonso for the win. Both the Ferrari and the Lotus look to have better race pace than Red Bull. A safety car could help Mercedes.


If RB is too dominant, I would just assume they are not on the grid and enjoy / watch racing similar to it happenned 2 years ago when Vettel won virtually everything.

I would however hope all the teams are in a mix and will fight with very little between them.


Ferrari engine sounded restricted on the tely, may be due gearing? Or mapping? I thing on qually would be a different story by the reds. Many off throttle blowing sounds for the first GP by many cars too! Or may be TV sound is not representative.???.


I fear we'll all need much Red Bull to stay awake this season as RBR runaway and hide.


@McLaren comments: I don't understand why has McLaren made such huge changes to their car. Speed and downforce clearly weren't the issues last year. Reliability was. Look at Red Bull. They had the fastest car along with McLaren, and they didn't screw their whole aerodynamics, car body etc up, they just perfected it. That's what McLaren should have done as well, and they would have a competitive car now (by looking at Mercedes AMG, it seems like the engine isn't the issue either).

On topic, I got no problems with Vettel, but it would be great to see a year when Red Bull isn't the best car overall, to see how they perform in a car like last year's Ferrari. Besides that, Alonso and Raikkönen would really deserve another title.


Hello James, Do you think Mclaren have made a strategic mistake by going for a revolutionary car for just one year of its life? Next year all the research and developments to this car would have to be scrapped!



No. I think everyone's panicking but ask that question again at Spanish GP. If they are still off by then, it's a problem


Mclaren, as I understand, ditched their MP4-27 because of limited scope for improvement. They suspected that they would be very competiive in initial races as they had very good baseline going by their form towards the end last season. But after 4-5 races they might have exhausted all options of development and fallen behind other in development race.

Now my question to James would be if we are going to see something like this happening to RBR as they have retained their car from last year? They were as competitive as Mclaren last year, if not more. But how long can they keep developing the same car?


Hi James, I would like to have your opinion on Jenson. Lots of comments in this post saying Jenson has no feedback to the engineers. Is this just our EXPERT readers persons opinion or there are some truth to it. You opinion please.


Think you would find that's Mclaren's chosen asset within Button car development dialogue and if he performs outstanding it's an obvious bonus, All be it somethings defo up this yr!


He's very good, of course. After 13 years and being an intelligent bloke.

Button's sweet spot in terms of driving a car on the limit is narrower than Hamilton or Alonso, so he needs a car a certain way to get the most out of it.

But in feedback terms he uses phrases like "there's no grip" but then does get down to nitty gritty.


Thank you James. That's what I thought. If his really that bad, he won't be around that long


Also before everybody gets carried away about LH and Merc, MSC topped FP2 last year in Australia.


Hi James,

Great site. Do you think there is enough potential in the Lotus for Kimi to have a chance for the WDC this year? And if there is do they have the resources to further develop it?



There is a lot of potential, but they don't have the resources to match development of Red Bull and Ferrari, McLaren and Merc.


Hi James, i was wondering if you know any truth that Mclaren could revert to last years Mp4 27?....i hope they understand the current challenger in time. I feel probably on the 5th race they could revert to last years challenger inbut not sure. What is your take on Mclarens crisis i mean no Paddy Lowe who engineered and designed the Mp4 28.



Paddy didn't design the car. Tim Goss who is now technical director will have been more hands on than Paddy in that respect.

I think it's a loss, certainly.

I'll check if the rules allow them to revert, They chassis has been homologated for 2013 and to change requires all the teams to agree


It is believed that Martin Witmarsh will wait until they understand this car as its a New concept all together. I believe its to do with suspension and or geometry. It was emerged that Mclaren got a suspension component the wrong way which lowered the car down below legal limit and hence faster time at Jerez. I personally feel Mclaren should created an evolution car from the Mp4 27. I hope they go for a b spec of Mp4 27.


It was appalling and painful to see Mclaren struggle to this degree.... I do have my suspicions about them sand bagging or are fine tuning something radical?

OR has the Flexi-wings rules have hurt them the most??? For Remember Silverstone 2012 a revision came about and Mclaren were really struggling as they are here in Australia in 2013.

So, was the late season speed in Mclaren from Singapore till Brazil (even though Hamilton retired in three of, he was untouchable till then)was purely down to flexi-wings?

If not so then why would a team dedicate resources to unnecessary changes in a dominant car rather than fine-tune it just like all the rest have done? especially when there is complete overhaul of rules in 2014 and resources are best allocated to that as all the other teams have done.

So, while the world was focusing on Redbull's flexi-wings was Mclaren's flexi-wings giving it more unfair advantage then it did the Redbulls and the Ferraris?

Questions, Speculations..... ummmmm' interesting 🙂

Top Tags
SEARCH Scuderia Ferrari
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!