Australian GP: Sebastian Vettel begins 2013 on top in practice one

Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel assumed his habitual position at the top of the timing screens right from opening practice for Australian Grand Prix as the new season got underway in Melbourne on Friday morning

Australian GP: Sebastian Vettel begins 2013 on top in practice one

Ferrari was the Red Bull driver's nearest rival, with Felipe Massa just 0.078 seconds away in second place and Fernando Alonso third.

Lewis Hamilton took an encouraging fourth for Mercedes.

Local boy Daniel Ricciardo had the honour of being the first man on track in an official F1 2013 session, and also set the year's first flying lap with a 1m36.089s. Nearly 40 minutes elapsed between those achievements, as teams waited in the pits after their installation laps in the hope that others would clear the dust from the circuit.

Ricciardo battled for the top spot with Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne for a while before the leading teams began setting the pace.

Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the big guns to show his hand, eventually working down to a 1m27.877s. Alonso beat that mark by 0.3s five minutes later.

Vettel did not start chasing lap times until the final half an hour, ultimately deposing Alonso with a 1m27.320s.

Ferrari fought back as Massa edged ahead by 0.031s, but the Brazilian's time in first place was fleeting, as Vettel immediately improved to 1m27.211s.

That kept him on top to the end. The Ferraris remained in second and third ahead of Hamilton.

Mark Webber and Raikkonen rounded out the top six, with Nico Rosberg seventh in the second Mercedes.

Adrian Sutil's F1 comeback began well in eighth. Jenson Button, in ninth, was split from McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez by Romain Grosjean's Lotus.

Several drivers, particularly those in the tail-end cars, skittered across the grass and run-off areas.

The only incident of significance came in the final moments, when Paul di Resta brushed the grass on the approach to Turn 6 and spun his Force India sideways into the gravel trap, from which he was surprisingly able to haul himself out.

Pos  Driver               Team/Car              Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1m27.211s            16
 2.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1m27.289s  + 0.078s  17
 3.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1m27.547s  + 0.336s  16
 4.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1m27.552s  + 0.341s  18
 5.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1m27.668s  + 0.457s  18
 6.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1m27.877s  + 0.666s  17
 7.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1m28.013s  + 0.802s  17
 8.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1m28.426s  + 1.215s  19
 9.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1m28.440s  + 1.229s  19
10.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1m28.520s  + 1.309s  15
11.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1m28.597s  + 1.386s  19
12.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1m28.786s  + 1.575s  19
13.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1m28.910s  + 1.699s  18
14.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1m29.443s  + 2.232s  20
15.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1m29.928s  + 2.717s  19
16.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1m30.203s  + 2.992s  17
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m30.729s  + 3.518s  17
18.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m30.969s  + 3.758s  19
19.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1m31.263s  + 4.052s  24
20.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1m32.176s  + 4.965s  23
21.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1m32.274s  + 5.063s  21
22.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1m32.388s  + 5.177s  18

All timing unofficial
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