Vettel fastest in first practice at Australian GP

5 Comments

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.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.