F1 flashback: Ferrari’s pair’s initial breakouts, Malaysia 2003


Before they were Ferrari teammates and now part of Formula One’s “old guard” in 2014, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen were 21 and 23-year-old “new kids on the block” in the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alonso was in only his second Grand Prix for Renault, after his rookie season at Minardi in 2001 and then sitting out a season to work as Renault’s test driver. But he put together a blinding lap to score his first career pole on Saturday.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, was in his second season at McLaren-Mercedes, and though he’d shown flashes of brilliance he’d not yet been able to secure a victory.

Raikkonen emerged ahead of Alonso after the first pit stop sequence and Rubens Barrichello, then-Ferrari number two, got ahead at the second sequence.

When all was said and done Raikkonen had captured his first career victory, with Alonso also standing on the podium for the first time.

These two and Jenson Button are the only three drivers from that Grand Prix still on the grid in 2014.

The race also marked a first for NBC Sports Group’s F1 lead announcer Leigh Diffey, as it was his first Grand Prix he commentated on in the U.S., substituting for Rick DeBruhl on the old SPEED Channel.

Diffey, who missed calling the 2013 Malaysian GP as it conflicted with the IndyCar season opener in St. Petersburg, will be back on the mic for this year’s race. Coverage times on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will be confirmed later this week.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.