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Practice One - Raikkonen the early leader in Melbourne

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Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari set the initial pace as practice for the Australian Grand Prix opened today in Melbournes Albert Park, in 39 degrees Celsius ambient temperature and a healthy wind.

The first 45 minutes saw the Ferraris battling each other for fastest time, with Felipe Massa gaining that with 1m 27.524s ahead of Kimi Raikkonen 1m 27.709s. Behind them, the Toyotas looked quick, with Timo Glock on 1m 28.913s and Jarno Trulli 1m 29.014s.

Then the McLarens came out and Lewis Hamilton worked down to 1m 27.386s to go fastest. Right at the end Raikkonen did two laps quicker than that, the better of which was 1m 26.461s. That compared very favourably with his pole time of 1m 26.072s from last year despite the ban on traction control and engine braking.

Hamiltons late response was 1m 26.948s, a difference of only 0.487s suggesting that the two teams are evenly matched. Heikki Kovalainen got off to a good start in the second MP4-23 with fourth fastest time of 1m 27.114s, just behind Massa, who had improved slightly to 1m 26.958s.

Mark Webber gave Red Bull a timely boost with a late fifth fastest run, of 1m 28.263s. That edged out Fernando Alonso, who got along well with the Renault R28 for 1m 28.360s. Robert Kubica was another late improver, lapping in 1m 28.579s in his BMW Sauber which bears distinctive nose fins atop the scuttle.

Glocks 1m 28.913s stood up for eighth overall, with Sebastian Vettel pushing ahead of Trulli for the ninth best time. The German lapped his Toro Rosso in 1m 28.957s, beating the Italians 1m 29.014s.

Jenson Button looked better than expected in the Honda RA108 which he rowed round in 1m 29.124s for 11th ahead of Giancarlo Fisichellas Force India (1m 29.230s), David Coulthards Red Bull (1m 29.301s), Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso (1m 29.363s), Rubens Barrichello's Honda (1m 29.533s) and Nick Heidfelds BMW Sauber (1m 29.561s). Coulthards car expired in the pits with a smoking gearbox, while Heidfeld stopped out on the circuit at Turn 10.

Adrian Sutil was 17th for Force India on 1m 30.155s and Nelson Piquet 18th for Renault on 1m 30.357s. The young Brazilian rookie had a difficult morning, bringing out the red flag briefly after spinning and stalling.

The Super Aguris did not go out until the end, Takuma Sato working down to 1m 31.048s for 19th, comfortably ahead of Anthony Davidsons 1m 31.771s.

It wasnt a good morning for Williams; Kazuki Nakajima lapped his FW30 in 1m 35.053s for 21st, while technical problems prevented Nico Rosberg from doing more than just three installation laps.


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2012 Race Drivers

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Lewis Hamilton
Jenson Button
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Michael Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Räikkönen
Romain Grosjean
Paul di Resta
Nico Hulkenberg
Kamui Kobayashi
Sergio Perez
Daniel Ricciardo
Jean-Eric Vergne
Pastor Maldonado
Bruno Senna
Heikki Kovalainen
Vitaly Petrov
Pedro de la Rosa
Narain Karthikeyan
Timo Glock
Charles Pic

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