F1 teams starting to stir on Aussie GP race day (PHOTOS)

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The Formula One paddock at Melbourne is starting to come to life ahead of this evening’s Australian Grand Prix, which you can watch LIVE on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra tonight at 1:30 a.m. ET.

Some of the teams have arrived at the circuit to begin making final preparations for tonight’s F1 season opener, including Mercedes, which will have both polesitter Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg within the first two rows at Lights Out.

McLaren has also made their way to Albert Park. Their young rookie, Kevin Magnussen, was impressive in qualifying yesterday and he’ll look to carry that over into his first Grand Prix.

Also on the scene now is Williams, which has been solid throughout the winter testing but will have work to do this afternoon. Veteran Felipe Massa rolls off ninth, while Valtteri Bottas has to start 15th after his team opted to replace the gearbox on his car – incurring a five-spot grid penalty in the process.

Rest assured, it won’t be quiet for too much longer…

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force qualifies 15th with no motor explosion, says ‘I need to race smart’ Sunday

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There’s good news and bad news for John Force fans.

The good news is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ did not suffer yet another motor explosion after enduring his third in three races during Friday’s qualifying session at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

In fact, Force intentionally feathered the gas pedal on his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to make sure it wasn’t again overtaxed, qualifying 15th with a run of 4.281 seconds at 222.88 mph.

Now for the bad news.

When Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET, Force will be matched against daughter and No. 2 qualifier, Courtney Force (3.914 seconds at 332.18 mph).

“It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round,” Courtney Force said of her father. “Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win.”

Courtney Force is seeking her second consecutive win, having also won two weeks ago at the second national event of the season in suburban Phoenix.

“I want to have a good side-by-side safe race tomorrow in round one,” Force said. “Our goal is to take my dad down and have a long day at the track winning rounds.

“We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”

But don’t count out dear old dad, an eight-time Funny Car winner at Gainesville.

“I am the kind of guy that, when it is qualifying day, I run it to the edge.,” John Force said. “I run it even if I know it will hurt itself.

“(With his three motor explosions this season) I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say I have to win this race or I have to qualify low after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. … We want to fix this problem and move on.

“Tomorrow I am going to have to play the odds game. I am going to run it to 700 or 800 feet and hope (Courtney) gets in trouble. I need to race smart.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski