Mercedes fly but Sauber and Manor miss first practice

2015 Australian Grand Prix first practice

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Just 16 cars participated in the first practice session of the 2015 season as neither of the Manor or Sauber cars ventured out of the garage during the opening 90 minutes of running at Albert Park.

Sauber drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson were grounded amid ongoing legal wrangles at the team. Yesterday an Australian court upheld its decision that Giedo van der Garde should drive for the team in the opening race of the season.

All was quiet at Manor as well, where the team admitted on Twitter they were “not expecting our first morning to be plain sailing” as “today is effectively our first day of testing”. Both Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens watched practice from the garage.

Of those who did take to the track, Mercedes were comfortably the quickest. Nico Rosberg reeled off a lap of 1’29.557 in the opening minutes of the session which still stood as the quickest time when the chequered flag came out.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton lapped within three-hundredths of a second of Rosberg’s mark, but no one else got within a second of the two W06s.

Valtteri Bottas led the charge for Williams, and deftly caught a momentary slide at turn one as the back end of his FW37 stepped out. Felipe Massa ensured both Williams cars were in the top ten.

The two Toro Rossos were between them as Melbourne newcomers Carlos Sainz Jnr and Max Verstappen completed over 30 laps apiece – the two STR10 drivers covering more than a race distance between them.

Daniel Ricciardo crept into the top ten after a minor spin at the penultimate corner in his Red Bull.

McLaren’s frustrating start to the season continues as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, substituting for Fernando Alonso, failed to run for much of the session.

Romain Grosjean’s Lotus also spent most of practice in the pits due to a problem with the underside of his Lotus. He set a slow lap at the end of the session when the drivers took to the track to carry out an evaluation of the new Virtual Safety Car procedure.

Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
16Nico RosbergMercedes1’29.55719
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’29.5860.02919
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’30.7481.19120
455Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’31.0141.45732
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1’31.0291.47213
633Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’31.0671.51031
719Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’31.1881.63119
87Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’31.3101.75314
913Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’31.4511.89422
103Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’31.5702.0139
1126Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’32.0732.51618
1211Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’32.2472.69022
1327Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’32.2612.70419
1422Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’34.5424.9856
1520Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Honda1’34.7855.2287
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes2’17.78248.2255
179Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari0
1812Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari0
1928Will StevensManor-Ferrari0
2098Roberto MerhiManor-Ferrari0

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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64 comments on “Mercedes fly but Sauber and Manor miss first practice”

  1. Mercedes 1s ahead. TR quicker than RB, at the moment anyway? McLaren nowhere. Manor making up the numbers probably. The Sauber situation is a joke. Vettel will beat Raikkonen, Kimi is past it.

    1. @victor
      I think it is a little soon to write Kimi off. Assuming that they were running a similar program, I would say they were evenly matched since they were within a tenth of a second for most of the time. Just give it a few races, maybe he’ll do well, maybe he won’t.

    2. Well I think you’re learning already. I would say the biggest lesson would be 12 mos from now when after first practice session, you come to this website and some nameless commentator proclaims the practice times have anything to do with real world performance. Like you said, clearly STR is faster than Red Bull, right?

    3. There is the F1 2015 season review for you guys! :)

    4. If you look at when those teams set their fastest time to be close, they did it later on in the session when as Bottas noted, the track was improving lap by lap. I think the teams would be happy if Mercedes were only 1 seconds ahead.

    5. One swallow does not make a Spring… Seriously, it’s just FP1!

  2. I hope we get the live times back on the screen for qualy and the race, having them come up every 15 minutes was just silly, and I still think that they are doing it to make people use their new website.

    1. @addimaf1

      You’re pretty right about that. 75% into reading your comment I was going to suggest you use their app…until I finished reading your comment

    2. I still think is plain old incompetency. The session had started and Magnussen was out on track and the same old mistake crop up, the graphic showed Mag on yellow soft. The only thing they always get working properly is the rendered ads on the grass. Melbourne on 11 and 12 and Pirelli and Rolex fake ads on the outside of several corners.

      1. machinesteve
        13th March 2015, 5:19

        Free for now….are they serious, this is a final nail.

    3. Looks like they have sorted the graphics out. At least we can follow the action now

  3. The Ferrari definitely seems to be improved from watching the onboards as there seems to be less understeer and more front end grip, something which Kimi should be especially happy with. Williams seemed to be a handful most of the time, as did the Red Bull but of course it’s early days yet. All in all though, in seems pretty much like a copy/paste from 2014 in regards to the running order i.e Mercedes still miles ahead.

    1. Did you miss Vettel going off-roading?

      1. A top 5 driver having an OFF in a top 5 car in Australia? This has to be the first time this happened. Always an indicator of a cars true current and potential performance.

        1. This was in response to @insilico ‘s perceived conclusions that Ferrari is better than the ill-handling Williams and Redbull, and I just pointed out that Ferrari’s running wasn’t without it’s oops moments!

  4. The last thing you want to do in a sprint event is to put spectators in the dark on where contestants are standing at any particular time during the event.

    FOM’s idea of pushing everything behind a paywall is already unpopular with fans but to do the same with live timing, is simply crazy.

    My frustration at staring at a blank screen while wondering what is happening with a small corner pop at the bottom left of the screen led me to start looking for live timing sources online.

    I may have the patience to do that but so many people watching at home or somewhere else may not.

    If FOM wants to deliberately whittle down Formula 1 viewership to die-hard fans, I say congratulations to them because they are doing an amazing job.

    Imagine watching a football match, track event, etc and being shown the scores only a few times during the event. The rest, u simply stare at a blank screen, in the name of new ‘simple graphics’ and simply wonder.

    Good job, FOM. You guys are geniuses!

    1. * with small corner pop-ups between long intervals

    2. led me to start looking for live timing sources online.

      Did you find anything? There’s live comentary like Autosport’s, with the occasional list of fastest times, but I couldn’t find any actual live timing.

      1. Since I consciously decided not to swallow FOM’s bait by going to their website and subscribing, I found some live timing on planetf1 and for a while, that worked perfectly ok. But then, it stopped.
        I searched elsewhere but finally gave up.

    3. @tata The basic live timing on the f1 website is still free, I was using it for that session.

      Its only some of the extra stuff that you need to be a subscriber to access.

      1. I also think it should be remembered that the 1st race we had with the old graphics (Bahrain in 2010) also had som eof the graphics we were used to missing, But they all came back for the 2nd race & ever since then they were constantly tweaked & improved.

        Same will likely be true now, They start out with the basics for the initial sessions to ensure all the new systems are working & then will get everything up & running fully as the weekend goes on.

        1. Very true, no reason a technical glitch cant happen to our broadcaster as well. If Honda cannot make an engine run 5 laps, no reason a technical glitch cant prevent live timing on the first practice session of the year.

      2. Now, that’s interesting.
        It had always presented me with a ‘subscribe’ to get live timing page.
        Went back to it now and the page has dissappeared, and in its place is a Table titled Leaderboard showing where everyone finished.

        1. @tata You need to register to get live timing, but it is free.

  5. Nasr and Ericsson were actually pulled out off the cars. Guess the team didn’t want to take any chances. I think it’s quite obvious now that Giedo will drive

    1. There is a slight chance that the cars could be seized by the bailiffs, and nobody gets to drive! A mess is what it is.

    2. Even as a signed driver, Giedo doesn’t have to drive the car in every session. Sauber could have had the other two drivers in the car for FP1 and have Giedo in FP2.

      1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
        13th March 2015, 15:14

        actually, if gvd is successful forcing his eay into the car, it shouldnt mean he has to drive every race, does he? they could change the drivers from race to race, couldnt theY?

  6. So, should I pay for And people in LAis watching F1 in Fox 3?

    1. It seems that they’re not broadcasting practice sessions anymore. At least they did’t broadcast FP1, and I don’t see FP2 on the guide either.

      1. I saw a tweet about a month that they will go with F1 in Fox 3. Stupid choice, most of people don´t have Fox 3 even in pay tv and they are showin Mexican Lucha Libre…

        1. Yep, apparently that’s the way it is. Qualy and race on Fox3, no practice.

          1. Only 10 races (live) on Fox3. There is a new channel that will transmit all the season (Canal F1 Latinamerica) and it’s not in my cable tv provider list. Crap. Streaming is my only hope.

    2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      13th March 2015, 3:35

      @celeste c r i c f r e e . t v
      there’s the option to see skyf1

  7. Mercs are 1s ahead in FP1..hate to think how far ahead they will in Q3!

    1. What was their fuel load and every other teams? Source?

      1. Source?!

        All he said was Merc were 1s ahead, and he is dreading to think what the gap will be in Q3. Move along now, nothing to see here

  8. Ham reign at the top is over, especially as the fastest. Ros just has that lil extra speed. Race day Hamilton is on top but it only tkes Nico to improve in that area. I think this year we could see a 14-5 qualifying between them.

  9. Yes!!! It finally started!!

    Sainz 1… Verstappen 0 I knew this would happen… they have been trying to sell this kid as the next Senna and somehow I felt that Sainz would put him in his place!

    Happy for VDG for taking a stand! Laws have to be abided by and somehow, kaltenborn screwed up big time!
    McHonda, nowhere to be found. Good thing ALO is working out and not geting frustrated by all this. I hope they get their act together quick!
    Ferrari, well, I don´t like Kimi much but I hope he wipes the track with Vettel.

    Merc, well NICO seems to take round one for now but I know HAM will pull something special from under his sleeve. I hope they make it interesting this year!

    All in all, things are looking good so far!

    1. I personally hope for an epic battel between the ferrari drivers. But I challenge you to answer this: if Vettel trumps Kimi by a greater margin than Alonso beat Kimi, will you admit that Vettel is a better driver than Alonso?

      1. Well Kimi is a year older and Alo is also no spring chicken.

      2. WTH??? I sincerely think that that won´t happen. Not after seing how bad Riciardo whooped him. Besides, I have said before the guy is good but I just don´t think he´s that great. The Newey machines really had a lot to do with his success… Cue the bashing in 3, 2, 1…

    2. well is very optimistic to tell the how the WDC will end based on FP1 of the first GP

      1. @celeste I re-read my comment and in no point in time did I predict who wins WDC… Although I believe that the advantage MERC has shown so far, makes me asume that a silver car will win and well with regards to the driver who wins it… I favour Hamilton since he is the second driver I support.

    3. Agee completely on Sainz, i think he will beat him but lets wait a lil afterall the gap is not huge.

    4. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

      If this was FP1 of Brazil this year, you wouldn’t even blink at the result of it. Beating your teammate in the first practice session of the year doesn’t put anyone in their place.

    5. Lol already from the first practice session MV is now in his place. Too much.

      1. @robbie

        I know, it’s so funny. Just over excitement for the fist session I suppose, but it is AMAZING how may people think someone ‘wins’ in free practice……..

        1. @paulguitar
          Ok, ok… I will admit I got a bit excited. I still think that Sainz will win the duel though.

          1. @karter22

            No worries, I think we are all excited the new season is finally here! It will indeed be a really interesting duel to watch……:)

    6. @karter22 Difference between Max and Carlos was really minimal, we will see by the end of the weekend where they stand, and probably will take 3 races to get a real picture.
      I do think though that most of the people are expecting that Carlos will dominate in the first races because he has more race experience, but after a while Max would dominate due to his talent.

      1. Ya I just think it’s going to be really interesting to see what Max does. The people inside F1 that have publicly put him on such a pedestal, know that you don’t just heap that kind of pressure on a young driver, nor expectation among the viewers, without some meat there to back it. We just don’t hear the kind of talk about new drivers that we have heard of Max. And the young age supports that uniqueness. I’m willing to give this guy lots of patience over at least a few seasons, with hopefully some sprinkles of brilliance in there from him once in a while, and we could well have a Senna in the making. Those are huge shoes to fill, and it won’t happen overnight for Max, unless he somehow really starts knocking our socks off right off the bat. Let’s see, and give him some breathing room to find his way.

      2. after a while Max would dominate due to his talent.

        That is what is ticking me off!! What has he won?? What makes him so talented?? Excuse me if I´m being ignorant, I haven´t been interested in the kid to be honest but as far as I know, he hasn´t won anything!

        And ok, I admited to getting a bit excited about FP1… it´s been too long with no f1 racing for me and so far I´m nailing my predictions.

    7. Don’t write off Verstappen just yet. Its FP1 of the first race!

      1. @johns23
        Agreed but I would bet the farm on the kid. Sainz might just surprise some!

  10. Anyone see Button in a conversation with engineers, and said something along the lines of “wow, so fast!”? And he seemed quite smiley when he said it.
    Could it be a small part of the lap where they gave the engine full power for a couple corners?

    1. Anyone see Button in a conversation with engineers, and said something along the lines of “wow, so fast!”? And he seemed quite smiley when he said it.

      He mist have been in his garage .. looking at the Mercedes cars lapping the circuit ;)

  11. I’m at the track for this one. The Mercedes looked effortless to drive and from how early they set their lap times I think they had more pace in the bag. I’m going to need to revise my pole time prediction!

    McLaren must have had their engine turned way down. They may have to worry about the 107% rule. The Honda engine also makes some weird noises at the apex. Hard to explain the exact noise but it similar to when a printer has a jam and the cogs are skipping but really loud. Doesn’t sound like anti lag, it’s almost mechanical.

    The Toro Rosso looked quick, Dan spun while chasing Max and he didn’t look like he could keep up. We could be in for a real shock.

    1. I’m at T9-10 grandstand and the Honda is really rough sounding on exit. The car does look quite stable which is great.

    2. Good stuff.

  12. machinesteve
    13th March 2015, 5:03

    Great but there were only 16 cars out there, anyone remember the time when we had pre-qualifying because there were 25 teams….the great F1 beast is very sick indeed.

  13. I thought McLaren were going to change their livery before the first round. Is this correct? maybe they have some more important issues regarding their car rather then what colour it is.

  14. Don’t blame Alonso for staying at home and watching the processions. Only 13 laps combined for both drivers in FP1… I reckon that Mclaren goes away from this weekend with less that 100 laps completed under their belt.

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