Vettel fastest in first practice at Australian GP

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Sebastian Vettel found himself in a familiar spot to start the Formula One season — in front of the rest of the field. But just barely.

The 2012 champion was 0.078 seconds quicker than Felipe Massa, whose Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso was third, giving Vettel and Red Bull something to watch later Friday in practice for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Lewis Hamilton, making his first appearance for Mercedes, was fourth fastest.

The second practice session will provide slightly more insight into how Sunday’s race will fare, given that Saturday’s forecast calls for rain, affecting FP3 and qualifying. The race is expected to be dry.

Complete results of first practice:

1. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull, 16 laps, 1 minute, 27.211 seconds.

2. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari, 17, 1.27.289.

3. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari, 16, 1.27.547.

4. Lewis Hamilton, Britain, Mercedes, 18, 1.27.552.

5. Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull, 18, 1.27.668.

6. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Lotus, 17, 1.27.877.

7. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes, 17, 1.26.013.

8. Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India, 19, 1.26.426.

9. Jenson Button, Britain, McLaren, 19, 1.26.440.

10. Romain Grosjean, France, Lotus, 15, 1.26.520.

11. Sergio Perez, Mexico, McLaren, 19, 1.26.597.

12. Nico Hulkenberg, Germany, Sauber, 19, 1.26.786.

13. Paul di Resta, Britain, Force India, 18, 1.26.910.

14. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams, 20, 1.27.443.

15. Valtteri Bottas, Finland, Williams, 19, 1.29.443.

16. Esteban Gutierrez, Mexico, Sauber, 17, 1.30.203.

17. Jean-Eric Vergne, France, Toro Rosso, 17, 1.30.729.

18. Daniel Ricciardo, Australia, Toro Rosso, 19, 1.30.969.

19. Jules Bianchi, France, Marussia, 24, 1.31.176.

20. Max Chilton, Britain, Marussia, 23, 1.32.176.

21. Charles Pic, France, Caterham, 21, 1.32.274.

22. Giedo van der Garde, Netherlands, Caterham, 18, 1.32.388.

BMW confirms IMSA, WEC GTE line-ups for 2018

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BMW has confirmed its driver line-ups for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship campaigns.

In an announcement made at its end-of-year Sports Trophy event on Friday night, BMW firmed up its roster across its factory WEC team and its customer RLL Racing IMSA squad.

Two of the 2018 BMW M8 GTEs will enter the WEC next year, joining a hotly-contested GTE-Pro class that already features Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Ford.

BMW factory drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Martin Tomczyk will share the two cars across the 13-month ‘super season’.

The quartet will be joined by Tom Blomqvist, Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

In IMSA, the RLL Racing team will once again field Sims and John Edwards, who will be joined by the incoming Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn.

BMW also confirmed on Friday night that Tom Blomqvist would see out the Formula E season with its Andretti-affiliated team, having been benched for Kamui Kobayashi in Hong Kong.