Vettel fastest in first practice at Australian GP

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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.