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By Mark Orlovac
0713: McLaren fans waking up will be in a good mood when they
read the report from today's practice
while eating their morning porridge. Encouraging performances from Button and Hamilton but it is worth mentioning that you cannot read too much into the times and we do not know the fuel loads the cars were carrying. It's time to go and time to get some gorgeous, comfy and warm sleep. I don't know if sleep can actually be warm but as I've been up all night - it will do. You get some rest and I'll see you at 0230 GMT for final practice and qualifying. It should be a cracker. Take care.
Simon in Dover via text: "Hope this not going to be the same for McLaren this year quick in practice and qually but no race pace."
Virgin Racing chief operating officer Ian Phillips: "When Michael Schumacher wants to prove a point, and he has the car to do so, then don't underestimate him."
BBC F1 analyst Maurice Hamilton: "McLaren are going to be very happy with that after the winter they have had. It shows how professional they are in dealing with things like that. People would not have expected to see that."
0700: That, my friends, is the end of FP2. McLaren end up with a one-two, not bad for a day's work. Button heads the field with a 1:25.854 and then it is Hamilton (1:25.986), Alonso (1:26.001), Vettel (1:26.014), Webber (1:26.283), Schumacher (1:26.590), Massa (1:26.789), Perez (1:27.101), Barrichello (1:27.280) and Rosberg (1:27.448).
0659: Vitantonio Liuzzi it is for Hispania... but he does not post a time as he comes straight back in after the install lap.
0656: Rosberg is told that he can't deploy that rear wing, or drag reduction system as it is officially called. Virgin Racing chief operating officer Ian Phillips is talking about the German and says: "He is almost too low profile. He needs a big season to cement a place at a top team. He has to have the belief that he can win a race this year." Big news: HISPANIA ARE TAKING TO THE TRACK. Have it.
0649: Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery is on the wireless and he says there was a lot less degradation with the tyres in the first practice session than was expected. He believes that there will be between two and three stops on Sunday. It will be interesting to see. And the rain starts to fall. That's a shame because Alonso creeps up on a Toro Rosso and was within the one-second window on the main straight which allows him to deploy the moveable rear wing. He doesn't overtake into Turn 1. We don't know whether that is because of the rain or because the wing didn't work well enough. The track is now "wet" according to race control so the moveable rear wing cannot now be used.
0645: As a pointer, the fastest time on the opening day's practice in Melbourne last year was set by Lewis Hamilton and it was 1:25.801. Button is currently top with a 1:25.854.
0640: A couple of stories to make you aware of. The first is something that my boss Andrew Benson broke yesterday regarding
Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey,
who turned down an attempt from Ferrari to join the team. The second story is regarding
who insists he is "committed" to the team amid rumours that he could leave if they do not give him a winning car. Hamilton is now on the prime tyres and records a 1:36.873 - which is over 11 seconds off Button's fastest time. And there's the reason why, he locked up badly coming down into Turn 1.
jazzy_1985 on Twitter:
"I wonder if somehow the top wigs at McLaren knew their new car was quick out of the box and has been sandbagging all pre season?"
Renault F1 on Twitter:
"Looking at the times, it seems that most drivers are finding gains on the soft compared to the hard tyre."
From Meat in Evesham via text: "Just wanna say it's great to see drivers with both hands on the wheel around corners. Thank goodness the madness of the f-duct system is a thing of the past! Looking forward to closest ever season!"
0629: Here's Vettel on the options... a he posts a 1:26.014 which moves him up to fourth behind Alonso, the Spaniard setting a best of 1:26.001. "Vettel has changed so much since the final half of last season," says BBC F1 analyst Maurice Hamilton. "He got it all together. When he won in Abu Dhabi he gave one of the most measured and assured press conferences I have seen from a world champion. The turning point was Korea when his engine blew up, we were expecting the toys to come out of the pram but he just said: 'These things happen'. Brilliant."
thebin1001, in bed in Surrey via text: "Life resumes today! Been waiting four months for this. Want Webber to be champ so badly but reckon Vettel will do it again."
0624: Hamilton sets the fastest time in sectors one and two, but not the third, and posts a 1:25.986 for the fastest time of the day. Button complains over the radio that there is understeer but he still beats his team-mate with a 1:25.854. Interestingly, Button did not go purple on any sector when setting that time.
0622: And Button goes fastest with a 1:26.156 - we think it was his first lap on those softer tyres. In eight minutes time, we go into race mode for those moveable rear wings. Hamilton is on the option tyres and is flying... as is Webber.
0615: Halfway through FP2 now. Schumacher still leads the way, with Button and Hamilton (1:26.813) making up the top three. Then it is Alonso (1:27.112), Barrichello (1:27.280), Rosberg (1:27.448), Alguersuari (1:27.525), Buemi (1:27.697). A few drivers are now coming out on the softer option tyres with the yellow markings - Webber, Button and Rosberg to name but three. Petrov, who is still on the harder compound, visits the gravel.
justingt5 on Twitter:
"Love seeing Hamilton abusing those curbs and getting it a little crossed up, awesome control on the grip limit."
0606: There's life in the old dog yet you know. Michael Schumacher posts a 1:26.590 to lead the way. By the way, do you want to see an interview with the seven-time world champion about his hopes for Mercedes this season? Thought so.
0600: Ferrari are reporting that there was an "issue" with Alonso's car but that it is all sorted now. Which is nice. There are spots of rain falling but from the telly it seems that it is not too heavy. Ian Phillips is asked about the 107% rule, where drivers who finish 107% or more adrift of the fastest time in Q1 are eliminated from the race weekend, and he says: "You have to be worried about it." Button is now fastest with a 1:26.706 with Hamilton (1:26.961) second.
Renault F1 on Twitter:
"Vitaly says the car feels better than this morning. Some small changes needed to work on braking stability on the bumpy streets."
EditorRich on Twitter:
"If the HRT isn't ready now, how was it going to be ready for Bahrain? Best of luck to them though."
0555: Virgin Racing chief operating officer Ian Phillips is in the BBC Five Live commentary box and he says a lot of teams are mentioning four pit stops for the race on Sunday. Which will be fun. "If someone can manage three, then they are in for a host of points," adds Phillips. Vettel says he can feel some vibration coming from his front tyre while Webber is told that there will be light rain for the next five minutes but that then it will "go away".
0550: Oops. There's another Lotus having problems. Jarno Trulli visits the gravel at Turn 3, almost the same place where Chandhok went off in FP1. Hamilton improves to a 1:26.961 and Rosberg (1:27.448) is now second, Button third, Massa fourth and Schumacher fifth.
0544: The times they are a changing. Or something like that. Hamilton posts a 1:27.056 to go fastest, then it is Button (1:27.575) and Felipe Massa (1:27.877). News from the pit lane regarding Hispania - they will not be posting a flying lap today. Troubling times. BBC F1 analyst Maurice Hamilton: "Last year, [then Hispania driver] Karun Chandhok's first flying laps in Bahrain [the opening race] were during qualifying, which is ridiculous."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Melbourne: "McLaren declared themselves happy with their return to the track in Melbourne. The team say they spent the first session testing the durability of the new exhaust system, floor and a new front wing. Tyre durability has been a big talking point after the first session at Albert Park, which is often described as half a street circuit, but McLaren reckoned they were pretty comfortable on the Pirellis. Lewis Hamilton's race engineer Andy Latham also popped over to describe his charge as 'very happy' after the first session. He also explained that Melbourne uses the tyres differently to the Spanish Grand Prix circuit in Barcelona, where the teams had their final two winter tests, adding that it is dusty and the drivers have to get used to leaves on the track."
0539: "Use Kers, urgent," Vettel is told by his team somewhat alarmingly. He then asks about the rear wing and the reply is that he can use it if he wants to "but only on the main straight". We are not having to wait a long time for times to be posted in FP2. There's loads. Michael Schumacher leads the way at the moment, with a 1:27.979, he's followed by Jenson Button (1:28.308), Fernando Alonso (1:28.393) and Nico Rosberg (1:28.899).
0534: Virgin Racing's Timo Glock is told that there is no more rain of the radar. Thank goodness. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is interviewed on the Red Button and here's what he had to say: "It was a very good start. The circuit is cleaning up. We are happy with our progress and the components we were having a look at. We hope to be competitive and we are looking in reasonable shape. You don't know what other teams are running and until we get into qualifying tomorrow, it is very difficult to say [how we compare]. We were pleased with the tyre wear, Vettel hit a bit of debris and there was a cut but that can happen anywhere."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Melbourne: "I bumped into Karun Chandhok at Team Lotus headquarters during the break and he described himself as glum after crashing during his out-lap in first practice. He added that he has to hold his hands up and admit that it was his mistake, saying that as he has not driven on the Pirelli tyres before he wasn't expecting them to have so little grip - and that is problem that most of the teams were struggling with in the first session. Chandhok was feeling cheery enough to make me a cup of tea, so that was nice."
0530: And we are off. Sauber's F1 rookie Sergio Perez is the first man on the track.
0526: The macs are being put on by members of the crowd. Oh dear. There are spots of rain falling in Melbourne. BBC F1 commentator David Croft mentions that for the first hour, the moveable rear wing will be in operation anywhere on the track, but for the final 30 minutes it will be race conditions, i.e. it can only be used between the official markings between the final corner, along the start/finish straight and to the first corner - which is a distance of over 800m.
0523: The sky is starting to bruise in Melbourne. Hopefully the clouds will not unload their rain on Albert Park during the next 90 minutes or so. And it is still very breezy. Just a reminder that coverage of FP2 is on the Red Button, on BBC Five Live sports extra as well as in the console at the top of this page. Ace.
James, Cambridge wide awake club, via text: "F1 Looks like Virgin and HRT are gonna struggle to make the 107% cut."
keshav201090 on Twitter:
"Hello Mark. Feeling super excited by the start of the new F1 season. Hoping that the McLarens can spring a surprise..."
yellow_shades on Twitter:
"How about a shout out for all us F1 nutters that have stayed up all night to watch the practice sessions?"
Force India on Twitter:
"There were 2 team objectives for the first practice session here at Albert Park. 1 For Nico [Hulkenberg] to gather as much data on the prime tyre as possible, in particular wear life and degradation. 2 For Adrian [Sutil] to collect data on and evaluate a new rear wing. Behind the scenes the team were concentrating on the cooling of the engine, KERS and brakes in particular. Paul [Di Resta] drove this circuit last year, so it's not completely new for him. Over the course of the season Adrian and Paul will both share their car with Nico on a Friday."
0513: If you were doing something silly like sleeping earlier on, well you missed a first practice session which had Mark Webber and his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel topping the timesheets, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and the Williams of Rubens Barrichello following in behind. Lotus test driver Karun Chandhok
had a moment he would rather forget,
completing three corners before planting his car into the barrier and ruining the rest of the session for his team. At least that was three more corners than Hispania managed as Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan failed to get out of the garage. Will they manage any running today?
Adam in Leicester via text: "Ready for a great season of F1. Hoping for Mark Webber to become world champion, best personality on the grid by far."
JujuHall on Twitter:
"Awoke from driving F1 car dream. So excited & now crushed can't sleep. Must try get tickets."
0504: How was the break for you, then? Are you staying up, just rising, or even just getting in from a monster night out? What did you make of
And what are your predictions for this weekend and the season as a whole? What about the introduction of the moveable rear wing and Pirelli taking over the tyre supply? If only there was a way for you to tell me your thoughts. Oh hang on, there's something new and happening called
where you can search via hashtag
or you can tweet me direct via
You can also text me on 81111 with F1 before your message. Magic darts.
0500: Wakey, wakey. Rise and shine. Welcome back. Stay with it people, it's the final push, and then I promise you can get some rest. During the break, the sun came out in Melbourne to lift my spirits but now it's overcast again. Hope that isn't anything to do with me.
0316: Right then, that's me done for a bit. FP2 gets going at 0530 GMT and I'll be back from 0500 GMT to take you through it. Have a bit of shut eye why don't you, I'll wake you in time. We're going to crack open the Blue Nun to get us through the next few hours. I'm joking of course, we normally drink Black Tower. See you later.
Team Lotus on Twitter:
"There was no problem with Karun's car that caused his crash, just got caught out by the slippery track. That's racing, these things happen."
0306: The McLaren boys were the heaviest runners in that session, doing 55 laps between them. They will be happy with that considering their relative lack of running during winter testing. The drivers who did not set a time were Chandhok in the Lotus after that shunt early doors and the Hispania duo of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan.
0304: Here's the top 10 run down for you: Webber (1:26.831), Vettel (1:27.158), Alonso (1:27.749), Rosberg (1:28.152), Barrichello (1:28.430), Button (1:28.440), Hamilton (1:28.483), Schumacher (1:28.690), Kobayashi (1:28.725) and Petrov (1:28.765).
0300: Where did that hour and a half go? Your first FP1 of the season is done and dusted. Right at the end, Mark Webber takes the fastest time with a 1:26.831 - that one is for you Seb. Vettel finishes in second. "How ominous is that seeing both Red Bulls at the front," says BBC F1 commentator David Croft. Quite.
0257: Vettel improves to a 1:27.158 while Red Bull team-mate Webber is now in second after a 1:27.450. Alonso is third (1:27.749), Rosberg fourth and Button fifth with Hamilton sixth. No movement at Hispania. A real shame. Here's Ted Kravitz: "Hispania are not working on the car, which is strange. Maybe it is something else that they need. They are not going anywhere. There is a story here and we will get back to you. Financially they are up against it and you just hope they can sort themselves out and deliver a respectable performance on the track."
0254: Hello Nico, Rosberg sets a 1:28.152 to move up to third. Drama in the pits as Kravitz reports that the right side of Kamui Kobayashi's Sauber has broken off and the 24-year-old Japanese driver is being wheeled back into the pits.
0249: You know earlier that I said that Hispania were firing up their cars, well they haven't seen the light of day yet. Vettel is still top and Alonso, who did not set a fast lap until later in the session as Ferrari said he was running aero checks, is now second with a 1:27.749.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Melbourne: "The British boys all have their girlfriends here to cheer them on this weekend. Lewis Hamilton's pop star squeeze Nicole Scherzinger joins Jenson Button's belle, model Jessica Michibata, in the McLaren garage while Paul di Resta's childhood sweetheart Laura hangs out at Force India. Ms Scherzinger always seems to have a knack of arriving when Hamilton hits form so does he reckon she is his secret weapon? 'It could be the case,' Hamilton laughed. 'She definitely makes me very happy and I think everybody performs better in their lives when they are happier. She's been working so hard on her music and for her to take time out at such an important time in her career to come and support me is great.' We will choose to ignore the voice in the background who then piped up in a cheeky reference to McLaren's pre-season struggles: 'She's coming to 19 races now.'"
0240: It is worth mentioning that Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who is currently eighth fastest with a time of 1:29.040, was on course to set the fastest lap - matching Vettel in the opening two sectors - but aborted the lap. Kravitz has been looking at Rosberg's tyres when he came in and that front left, just like Webber's Red Bull, was looking ropey. Kravitz also mentions that a Mercedes car is topping the speed traps in all three sectors, Michael Schumacher in sectors one (283kph) and three (303kph) and Rosberg in sector two (298kph). "Mercedes are nailing it in the speed traps," says Kravitz. "Their moveable rear wing is working well."
0233: Apparently Massa's rear wing has a bit of flo-vis paint on it, which is used to help the engineers see the air-flow over the car. The colour of greenish-yellow paint always reminds of a jumper I once wore on a date with a girl called Emma when I was about 16. Big mistake. The jumper, combined with a natty pair of reversible trousers, scared her off and I never saw her again. Bad times. Anyway, Vettel sets a 1:27.739 to lead the way, then it's Webber (1:28.217), Button (1:28.440), Hamilton (1:28.483), Barrichello (1:28.489) and Massa (1:28.927).
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Melbourne: "Sebastian Vettel has been trying to describe what it feels like returning to the Formula 1 arena as the reigning world champion, but in typical fashion the 23-year-old was cheerfully modest. Does he feel like the king of F1? 'No,' he batted back. Do you get restaurant seats more quickly now? 'No, nothing like restaurant bookings being easier, sure I get recognised more often back home but that makes me very proud.' What about the salary as an F1 champion? 'I have a new contract but I will not tell you what my salary is and what it might be in the future.' Hmmm, has anything changed? 'I always have this smile on my face.' Well, that's not unusual for Vettel, who was in cheeky form when talking about being back in Australia. 'I like to come here. Especially as a German, in our country it takes you a long time before someone calls you a friend but the whole country is calling me mate, so it's nice.'"
Renault F1 on Twitter:
"Really getting down to the programme now for Nick [Heidfeld] and Vitaly [Petrov]. Some shortish runs planned for Nick. Some flow viz paint just went on Nick's car as he leaves for his next run."
KenevilF1 on Twitter:
"Good point by Maurice Hamilton, Williams are the only team to make their Kers system entirely themselves."
0224: So lots of chat about new tyre supplier Pirelli. They were charged with producing a tyre that is less durable, and it seems as if they have delivered. Those in the know are predicting that there will be between three and four pit stops per race, compared to the one stop which was the norm last year. The tyres have different coloured markings to help differentiate between the different compounds. So for Australia the logo will be silver for the hard, yellow for the soft.
BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "Hello everyone - welcome to F1 2011. There's a real sense of anticipation in the paddock in Melbourne this weekend, and nowhere more than at Mercedes. After a difficult time early in winter testing, their car went very well in the final test. I interviewed Michael Schumacher here for the BBC One show this weekend and he was in fine form. 'What can we achieve this year? There are good possibilities that we run onto the podium - that is what I'm expecting and hope for even at the first race. If everything goes very well we might win a race. Will we win the championship? I don't think so. I don't think we are yet prepared to fight for the championship. But there is a three-year plan and this year we made a huge step forward.' He also admitted he never got a handle on last year's Bridgestone tyres and said he was much happier with this year's new Pirelli tyres and he made a veiled hint that he thinks Red Bull may be stretching the resource restriction agreement to the maximum. We'll be posting the video on the website later."
0217: Webber improves to a 1:28.217 and Kravitz notes that time was set at the end of a seven-lap run. "There were wry smiles in the Red Bull garage when he set that time," he says. "By seven laps the tyres are starting to go off a bit. Webber's front left tyre really started to wear quite badly and chunks of rubber started to come off."
Renault F1 on Twitter:
"Vitaly [Petrov] is just giving his feedback over the radio. As you would expect the track is very green so early in the weekend."
RhysP23 on Twitter:
"If Felipe Massa doesn't present a reasonable title challenge in 2011, how likely is it Ferrari will stick with him into next year?"
0210: Quite a few times on the board now. Mark Webber is top of the pops with a 1:29.552, then it's Massa (1:29.572), Hamilton (1:29.939), Adrian Sutil (1:31.847) and Jenson Button (1:32.555).
0206: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a time. Three in fact. Ferrari's Felipe Massa is first up and he sets a 1:31.184 before going into the gravel after running wide at Turn 3. The track really is slippy. We get a great shot of Massa's rear wing open up down the straight leading to that corner, and then shutting when he hits the brakes. More on that in a bit.
0156: Still no times folks, just lots of installation laps. By the way, if you want to catch Chandhok's crash again - it's in the console at the top of this page. It is worth mentioning that Nick Heidfeld is in Robert Kubica's Renault race seat after the Pole's horrifying rallying crash in February. "He is missed," says BBC F1 analyst Maurice Hamilton. "He has no side to him, he is an easy-going guy, but there is respect there because he is quick. I wish him a speedy recovery. He has some way to go because the injuries were pretty severe. I am in the camp that says he should have gone [on the rally]. That is what he is. It keeps him sharp."
0150: Lewis Hamilton is out and about on the Albert Park track. His McLaren team have not had the smoothest of winters and struggled to match the pace of the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull. However, they have arrived in Australia with a revised exhaust system as well as a new floor as
team boss Martin Whitmarsh explained:
"The exhaust systems have become quite a lot more extreme on quite a lot of the cars. I think we, in particular, had very extreme solutions, but I think they were not delivering, in my opinion, sufficient benefits for their complexity." It will be very interesting to see how they get on today. "McLaren have copied Red Bull and Ferrari's exhaust system," says Kravitz. "The exhaust comes out where you would expect them to and they flatten either side of the diffuser. It is more simplified than what they had before."
0146: Apparently the brand new Hispania car is being fired up in the garage - the 2011 version was not unveiled in time for testing. There have been rumours in the paddock that the team failed to pass the mandatory crash test but Ted Kravitz says those stories are not true. Anyway, no times have been set as yet.
BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz outside the Lotus garage: "The team are saying that nothing out of the ordinary has happened to the car. They were looking at the tyre pressures but that does not appear to have been the problem. The signs point to driver error at the moment."
Williams on Twitter:
"And Rubens heads out. We're doing usual checks plus KERS and moveable rear wing tests."
Ferrari on Twitter:
"Both Felipe and Fernando have some paint on because of aero checks: Felipe on the rear wing, Fernando on the front one."
0135:BBC Radio 5 live analyst Maurice Hamilton: "That is a shocking thing for Karun and the Lotus team." Lotus will lose a lot of time now after that. The yellow flag comes down and the session can resume.
0131: Oh dear. A desperate moment for Chandhok. He puts on the power coming out of Turn 3 and he loses the back end and smacks into the barriers, destroying the front of the car. Well, that's one way to start a campaign. "I don't know what happened," Chandhok tells his team. "I just lost it."
0130: And we are go for 2011 and Lotus test driver Karun Chandhok is the first man out... and we have a crash!
0125: So first practice will get going at 0130 GMT and you can catch it on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Red Button as well as in the console at the top of this page. All of that lot is go... now.
domcovkid on Twitter:
Good to have F1 back as a break from my dissertation! Wondering how McLaren will get on with this massive new package...!
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Melbourne: "Hello again. It's almost 19 weeks since we last met on the grand prix weekend live commentary in Abu Dhabi. Good to be back, isn't it? The sports-mad city of Melbourne has welcomed Formula 1 with its usual enthusiasm. The fans here showered Sebastian Vettel with congratulations and thank yous as the new world champion ventured out alone to sign autographs in the rain yesterday. But the glories - and struggles - of 2010 will soon be forgotten when the cars hit the track in first practice at Albert Park and find their feet under 2011's new regulations. There is lots to keep us occupied in the next 90 minutes. McLaren are desperate to test their heavily modified car - and a damp track won't help that - while Hispania are due to roll out their new car for the very first time after failing to run in the final Barcelona test. And Sergio Perez of Sauber and Pastor Maldonado in the Williams are both starting a race weekend for the very first time. Let's go."
0114: I'm watching some telly shots now from Albert Park and I can exclusively reveal, well to the seven people reading this anyway, that it is overcast but there is no rain. There is a fair old breeze, though. And a big hello to our intrepid reporter Sarah Holt, who has just sent me her first snippet of the season from Melbourne...
0109: Good morning/evening/afternoon*. Hello to you and a very warm welcome to F1 2011. It's been a while. We haven't got long before the opening practice session of the campaign gets under way. Wide awake? Goody. This is going to get a little interesting. * delete as applicable
0105: The wait has been a bit longer than we expected but 131 days since Sebastian Vettel clinched his
maiden world championship
in Abu Dhabi, F1 is back. Yeah baby.
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