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…

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.