• Australian GP - FP1

Alonso finishes first practice in Australia on top

ESPN Staff
March 14, 2014
Fernando Alonso beat a contingent of Mercedes-powered cars in the opening session © Sutton Images

Fernando Alonso topped the opening practice session of the Australian Grand Prix as the 2014 season got off to a stuttering start for some of his rivals.

Lewis Hamilton completed just half a lap before his Mercedes pulled up at Turn 9 after a faulty oil sensor set off a false alarm. He should be back on track for the second session on Friday, but it was proof that even the best prepared teams are not immune to issues in the new era of Formula One. It marked the end of Hamilton's session, with the car parked up on the far side of the track from the pits, and he suffered another indignity when he was asked to show his pass on his return to the paddock gates.

Meanwhile, the team with the least amount of testing mileage pre-season, Lotus, continued to struggle, with just two laps completed during the 90-minute session. Pastor Maldonado was behind the wheel for both of them but coasted back to the pits at the end of his second after a few wisps of smoke made their way into the cockpit. Romain Grosjean did not turn a single lap in his Lotus and Catehram, which is also powered by the troublesome Renault power unit, also failed to set a lap time with Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi completing just one lap each.

Red Bull had a mixed session, with Daniel Ricciardo's car completing an impressive 26 laps while Sebastian Vettel was limited to just 10 after spending the first 50 minutes in the garage. By the end of the session Ricciardo was fifth fastest - and the highest-placed Renault-powered car. However, the times in first practice should be treated with caution as the teams continue to debug and refine their cars ahead of the first real test in qualifying on Saturday.

Nevertheless, plenty of drivers appeared to be pushing the limits into Turn 1, with cars running wide and over the grass on several occasions. Alonso and Button were among those who ended up with all four wheels off track, although the list of the drivers that did not run wide was shorter than the list of those who did by the end of the session.

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