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Australia 2011 - Free Practice 1 highlights - A brand new F1 season gets underway at Albert Park

Published by Christine

Adrian Sutil makes his way around Albert Park for the first time in 2011
Credit: Force India F1

The first session of the 2011 season had a lot of anticipation to live up to and despite being a Free Practice session - and normally the quietest one of an F1 weekend - it managed to deliver on all accounts.

We had a crash within minutes of practice beginning, we had a team that never made it out of the starting gate (no prizes for guessing who), and we had plenty of slips and slides as the teams got to grips with their new tyres.

Relive it all minute by minute with the first Factbyte Factbox session of the brand new F1 season.

As it happened: 2011 Australia - Free Practice 1

  • 01:00

    Hello and welcome, F1 is BACK!!

  • 01:01

    If you're in the UK, you're up in the early hours but there's plenty to stay up for - Free Practice 1 gets underway in 30 minutes.

  • 01:02

    To join in the fabulous Sidepodcast live comments, head here: or to the direct thread:

  • 01:04

    Official live timing is available here:

  • 01:05

    There's been some rain showers ahead of the track action today, so grip will be of paramount concern.

  • 01:05

    TweetTweet from @MikeGascoyne: Briefing for first session done. Track drying out but still cold and tricky conditions. Concentrating on systems work for P1

  • 01:06

    TweetTweet from @5LiveF1: We will be on air on the Red Button, BBC Sport Online and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra in just over 20 minutes... #fp1 #bbcf1

  • 01:06

    Don't forget to vote on the Sidepodcast poll: "Who will complete the least number of laps during this session?"

  • 01:07

    We're also taking bets on who will be the first to spin it. So far, Maldonado appears to be the favourite.

  • 01:10

    QuoteComment from Nathan: If it's "spin" it I'll say Maldonado. If it's "crash" it.. hmm.. I'll plump for Trulli.

  • 01:11

    For reference, this weekend's tyre compounds are the hard and the soft - silver and yellow respectively.

  • 01:11

    There is a handy song to help you remember the different colours and compounds if you're struggling:

  • 01:14

    Although it is worth very little, Red Bull topped the most days of the pre-season tests with five P1 positions. Mercedes were second best with four.

  • 01:15

    Ferrari led three, Renault two, and Williams and Sauber both had one P1 each.

  • 01:17

    Mercedes GP rolled out a new site ahead of the action today, and with it comes live telemetry:

  • 01:18

    McLaren look set to continue their awesome data work as well:

  • 01:20

    There's been non-stop talk today, with all the drivers sharing their opinions on what the racing will be like and whether they will be fast.

  • 01:21

    The Optimist of the Week Award goes to Tonio Liuzzi who believes HRT could be in for some points this weekend, despite the fact the F111 has yet to complete a single lap of testing.

  • 01:22

    Rubens Barrichello is thankful just to be in Australia at all after a difficult journey. He was stranded in Argentina after the airport had to close. His flight was delayed 15 hours.

  • 01:22

    QuoteComment from Lukeh: FBFB I think Tonio is confusing points with laps :)

  • 01:23

    Karun ChandhokKarun Chandhok sits in his new team garage after being signed up to Team Lotus as reserve driver this week. Karun will participate in some Friday practice sessions throughout the year.

  • 01:24

    For those online in the UK, the BBC should have the stream here:

  • 01:26



    Wind speed6.1mps
  • 01:27

    The drivers are all being strapped into their cars, engines being warmed up.

  • 01:29

    TweetTweet from @willbuxton: Paddock talk this morning says HRT may only have one car available today and even then only for FP2.

  • 01:30

    Ferrari are running a Japanese flag on the front of the car, with a message of support.

  • 01:30

    Green flagSession started.

  • 01:30

    Chandhok is first out of the pitlane, taking his seat in the Team Lotus car. He's in Trulli's car this morning.

  • 01:30

    Hulkenberg is next out.

  • 01:31

    CrashChandhok has lost his front wing already!

  • 01:31

    Yellow flagYellow flags.

  • 01:32

    Replays show he lost grip out on track, lost the back end and smashed straight into the wall.

  • 01:32

    RadioTeam radio from Karun: "Guys I don't know what happened. I just lost it!"

  • 01:33

    QuoteComment from Mr C: this is his only session right? gut.ted.

  • 01:34

    Ted Kravitz on 5live says that Karun doesn't even have a fitted seat for the car as the deal was done so late.

  • 01:34

    Karun exitsKarun makes a hasty exit. It seems unlikely the team will blame him too harshly, but it makes their day far more difficult than intended.

  • 01:35

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 01:36

    Neither Virgin driver is suited or helmeted to get in the car. Paul di Resta is also sitting the session out, as Hülkenberg is in his car.

  • 01:37

    Just Schumacher, Massa and both Renaults are out on track at the moment. No times as yet.

  • 01:38

    Ted Kravitz on 5live chases up Karun's crash: "The team are saying from all the telemetry, there's nothing out of the ordinary that's happened to the car. They were having a look at tyre pressures because he might have spun because of low pressure but that doesn't appear to be the case."

  • 01:39

    Karthikeyan, Liuzzi and Glock are the only drivers not to have left the garage now.

  • 01:40

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: both Felipe and Ferandno have some paint on because of aero checks: Felipe on the rear wing, Fernando on the front one

  • 01:40

    Ten minutes gone, no times set as yet.

  • 01:41

    Live timing may not be totally reliable, as the circuit are having some problems.

  • 01:41

    TweetTweet from @f1timingapp: Track is having positioning feed problems. Race control working on it.

  • 01:42

    Just learnt that Mercedes are only running live data on Saturdays and Sundays, and McLaren's doesn't seem as good as last year. Oh well.

  • 01:43

    Selected highlights from Liuzzi at HRT: "The target is to do some laps in my car in the first session of the morning... then hopefully have both cars out in the afternoon."

  • 01:46

    The Hispania engine is firing up!

  • 01:47

    If you're struggling to find a stream, Autosport's live updates may be just what you're looking for:

  • 01:47

    Along with mine, obviously.

  • 01:48

    TweetTweet from @eddstrawF1: #f1 Sounds like the HRT anticipation is going to continue for several more hours...

  • 01:50

    Lewis Hamilton heads out on track. We've only seen installation laps from all so far.

  • 01:51

    Karun Chandhok is tucked away in the depths of the garage, talking to his mechanics, explaining what happened.

  • 01:52

    Hamilton looks like he's going for our first time of the day.

  • 01:52

    Button is also heading out on track.

  • 01:53

    Hamilton backed off the lap, and returns to the pits without setting a time.

  • 01:54

    Button also returns to the garage. Will anyone set a time?

  • 01:58

    Jaime wavesJaime Alguersuari points at the camera. He's sitting this session out as Daniel Ricciardo gets a turn in the Toro Rosso.

  • 01:59

    Live timing does seem a bit broken. If you're seeing a red flag, there really isn't. Alonso has just finished another installation lap.

  • 02:00

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: There are one or two breaks in the cloud base but it remains very dull around Albert Park, with the radar showing no sign of imminent rain.

  • 02:00

    Rosberg heads out of the garage in the Mercedes.

  • 02:00

    30 minutes completed, just an hour to go now.

  • 02:01

    And Rosberg returns to the garage. Still no lap time in sight.

  • 02:03

    The HRT mechanics are busily working on Liuzzi's car but it is still essentially just a tub and a rear wing at the moment.

  • 02:04

    Petrov and Vettel head out to test conditions.

  • 02:05

    TweetTweet from @303_Ninja: 1 1/2 hour morning practice, where all the times will be set at the last moment, lol @factbytefactbox @sidepodcast #fp1

  • 02:06

    Petrov returns to the pit lane, with the car making a worrying chugging noise as it gets back to the garage.

  • 02:08

    Pastor Maldonado is my hero! He sets the first laptime of the season with a 1:39.381.

  • 02:09

    Massa runs off into the gravel after setting a time, faster than Pastor: 1:31.184.

  • 02:09

    For reference, last year's fastest time for FP1 was Robert Kubica in the Renault with a 1:26.927.

  • 02:10

    DIfferent tyres and stuff, of course.

  • 02:10

    Hamilton jumps up to second, then Webber pushes him down. Massa still fastest for now.

  • 02:11

    QuoteComment from Kate: It wouldn't be Free Practice if Massa didn't go off at some point...

  • 02:11

    TweetTweet from @MyTeamLotus: @karunchandhok got changed and is back in our hospitality..bad luck for him

  • 02:12

    Massa improves his time to 1:29.572.

  • 02:12

    Webber tops him by a couple of tenths.

  • 02:13

    Three drivers under 1:30 now - Webber, Massa, Hamilton.

  • 02:15

    A note from McLaren's live race updates: Expect to see times dropping now as more and more teams start their "serious" running.

  • 02:15

    Halfway through the session now, Hamilton jumps to the top of the times.

  • 02:16

    Hulkenberg locks up heavily as he navigates his Force India around a corner.

  • 02:17

    Webber jumps up to P1 at the end of a seven lap run - 1:28.217.

  • 02:17

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: Felipe is back in the garage. Everything is ok with the car. Fernando is completing another double installation lap

  • 02:18

    Discussing Petrov's juddering return to the pitlane, @MarussiaVirgin have an idea: probably a rolling bite point learn.

  • 02:20

    Still no sign of HRT.

  • 02:20

    Only 10 drivers have set times so far.

  • 02:21
    Top Five So Far
    1M Webber1:28.217
    2L Hamilton1:28.483
    3J Button1:28.915
    4F Massa1:29.572
    5S Buemi1:30.302
  • 02:24

    McLaren are the hardest working team at the moment, with Button and Hamilton on 12 and 11 laps respectively. Ricciardo for Toro Rosso is the only other driver in double figures - 10 laps.

  • 02:28

    14 drivers have times now, with seven still to get times, one crashed, and two unlikely to get out of the garage at this rate.

  • 02:29
    Top Speeds
    Sector 1J Button282kph
    Sector 2L Hamilton294kph
    Sector 3N Hülkenberg302kph
    Speed trapN Hülkenberg313kph
  • 02:30

    Vettel drops the times down to 1:27.869.

  • 02:32

    Lotus data screensA glimpse into the Lotus garage by @sparkteamlotus.

  • 02:35
    Inter-Team Battle
    Toro Rosso
    S Buemi10th - 1:30.302
    D Ricciardo14th - 1:31.248
  • 02:35

    Vettel beats his own time, we're down to 1:27.739 now.

  • 02:36

    Less than 24 minutes to go and Alonso and Kobayashi are the only drivers expected to get a time who are without one at the moment.

  • 02:38

    Kobayashi puts in his first time and slips into 18th position.

  • 02:39

    Sutil locks up and runs off track across the gravel after the main straight.

  • 02:39

    A glimpse of Vettel's tyres shows some massive chunks missing out of the rubber.

  • 02:41

    Tyre with holeA glimpse at the damage to Vettel's tyre.

  • 02:41

    Alonso sets his first time of the day, and moves up to 9th position.

  • 02:42

    Sutil on the grassSutil takes an alternative route.

  • 02:42
    Field Spread
    1stS Vettel1:27.739
    21stJ D'Ambrosio1:36.990
  • 02:44

    TweetTweet from @OfficialMGP: #F1 The drivers really need to learn how to work with the adjustable rear wing today, where to stop using it, braking point... amazing stuff

  • 02:45

    Massa locks up and ruins a corner (and probably a tyre) but continues on.

  • 02:45

    Less than fifteen minutes remain of this first practice session.

  • 02:47

    QuoteComment from Bassano: Virgin are outside 107%

  • 02:50

    With ten minutes to go:

    Top Five So Far
    1S Vettel1:27.739
    2F Alonso1:27.749
    3M Webber
    4J Button1:28.440
    5L Hamilton
  • 02:50

    RadioTeam radio from pit to Hamilton: "Could be more time to find in the first sector." And to Button: "Use the wing to get past if you need to."

  • 02:53

    Jérôme hits his marksJérôme D'Ambrosio attempts to hit his mark and is 5cm adrift.

  • 02:53

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: Teams are favouring the harder tyre for this first session, saving the softer tyre for improved track conditions in the second period.

  • 02:54

    Rosberg has jumped up to P3, with a 1:28.152.

  • 02:54

    A little piece of debris sits out on track, although it's not clear where or who it has come from.

  • 02:55

    Kobayashi's entire right side of the engine cover. Apparently it has just broken right off. He's back in the garage now.

  • 02:56

    Webber has popped up to P1, with Vettel taking it right back again with a 1:27.158.

  • 02:57

    I'd call that trading fastest laps. David Croft on 5live called it flip-flopping. Either way.

  • 02:57

    Nico Rosberg has a bit of a moment running sideways through the gravel but he regains the track without any major incident.

  • 02:57

    TweetTweet from @willbuxton: Kovalainen in the Lotus is just a tenth off Petrov in the Renault. Great job from the boys in Green.

  • 02:58
    Inter-Team Battle
    N Heidfeld11th - 1:29.381
    V Petrov16th - 1:30.477
  • 02:59

    One minute left.

  • 03:00

    Chequered flagSession complete.

  • 03:00

    Drivers can complete the laps they are on though.

  • 03:01

    Petrov pulled it out of the bag just as I posted that table. He's now ahead of Heidfeld, 10th and 12th respectively.

  • 03:01

    Webber puts in the fastest time of the day, a 1:26.831.

  • 03:03
    Free Practice 1 Results
    1M Webber1:26.831
    2S Vettel1:27.158
    3F Alonso
    4N Rosberg1:28.152
    5R Barrichello
  • 03:03

    Barrichello appeared out of nowhere, good work from the Williams driver.

  • 03:04
    Gap to P1
  • 03:06

    Webber finishes on topWebber gets first honours in the 2011 season.

  • 03:06

    Red Bull have shown their pace, which was not really a surprise to anyone. HRT didn't make it out of the garage, again not a surprise.

  • 03:06

    One half of both Mercedes and Williams looked really good today, whilst McLaren are almost there but not quite.

  • 03:07

    We'll know even more when FP2 gets underway at 5:30am GMT.

  • 03:07

    You wait for ages and then two practice sessions turn up at once!

  • 03:07

    Goodbye for now, fact fans.

All content in the series Australia 2011