Hamilton’s practice lasts just five minutes due to problem (VIDEO)

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He may have been touted by many as the favorite for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton’s race weekend got off to a disastrous start as his Mercedes W05 car ground to a halt after just five minutes of practice.

The Briton, who enjoyed a fine testing period ahead of the race weekend, was one of the first drivers to exit the pits at the start of the session. A new rule for 2014 sees drivers given a bonus set of tires that can only be used during the first 30 minutes of the session, meaning that many took advantage of this to get out early and post a lap time.

However, whilst completing his installation lap, Hamilton’s car came to a halt because of an oil pressure sensor problem. He was forced to stop his car on the exit of turn ten, bringing out waved yellow flags and requiring a crane to carry the Mercedes away.

Although the team did make efforts to get the car back to the pits, Hamilton eventually changed out of his race suit and was forced to sit out for the remainder of the session.

Interestingly, when walking back to the pits, Hamilton kept his helmet on and refused to talk to the media. However, a security official tried to get the driver to present his paddock pass, but he was quickly brushed aside.

Hamilton will be hoping to make up for lost time during the second free practice session, which is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET.

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

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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.