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EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Third Practice: Lotus blossoms in the wet

Frenchman Romain Grosjean topped the times in Saturday’s rain-hit third and final free practice session ahead of Sunday’s Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

The Lotus driver, victim of many opening-lap collisions last year, demonstrated competitive speed in the opening 15 minutes of dry running before a downpour halted the action and left the teams with a 25-minute window to test their cars in the wet conditions.

Van Gisbergen the rain master

Commodore charger Shane Van Gisbergen has blitzed the field to win the third MSS Security-backed V8 Supercars Challenge race at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

On a wet track, the 23-year-old old delivered a master class, vaulting through from ninth on the grid to win the 12-lap race by a massive 12.6072 seconds from Craig Lowndes, with Jonathan Webb in third to make it a Commodore clean sweep of the top spots.

Van Gisbergen also set the fastest lap of the race with a 2:11.6281, nearly a second ahead of Webb’s best.

Coulthard times run to perfection

David Coulthard’s sense of impeccable timing has continued, claiming his third successive victory in the popular Ultimate Speed Comparison one-lap handicap event at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Yet again, Coulthard’s RB7 F1 car blasted past Mick Doohan’s Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG and the Commodore V8 Supercar of Casey Stoner to deliver the goods in another stirring finish.

But Australia’s motorcycle GP champions really took it up to him, forcing the Scot to carve over two seconds off his best time in race two.

Albert Park master strikes back

Craig Baird has hit back with a vengeance in race two of the Porsche Carrera Cup program at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

After finishing – for him – a lowly third in race one, today was all about redemption, and the New Zealander’s intentions were clear from the outset when he nipped underneath Steve Richards at turn one seconds after the start.

From there, he wasn’t headed again, although he did have to contend with Nick Percat sitting on his bumper for a fair chunk of the eight-lap journey.

Will they be super on the soft option?

The good thing about history is that it teaches us what to expect.

Looking at it another way, the great Murray Walker used to say that he never made mistakes, only predictions that didn’t always come true.

So what should we expect and/or predict when it comes to qualifying for the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix?

History first: the men who have been on pole here for the last seven years are all back again. That’s Jenson Button (2006, 2009), Kimi Raikkonen (2007), Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2012) and Sebastian Vettel (2010, 2011).

“I always knew…”

If you were among the crowd at the Australian Grand Prix 11 years ago, the name Coulthard should be familiar to you.

Not just because ‘DC’, Scotland’s F1 star David Coulthard, led the Formula 1 race for 10 laps in his McLaren Mercedes: his (literally) distant cousin, New Zealander Fabian Coulthard, was also on track.

Not among the F1 elite, of course: the English-born New Zealand driver was making his Albert Park debut as a Formula Ford driver. The field, in which his combative driving stood out, included names like J. Whincup.

‘The best things in life are free’ – or are they?

Television, television, television….

Money, money, money…

Those two linked topics topped the bill when a group of team chiefs and major component suppliers met the media at Albert Park on Friday.

‘The world is changing’, was the keynote, and Formula 1 must change with it to ensure ongoing financial health.

The Formula 1 panel revealed concerns that the sport is facing a major challenge to sustain its levels of financial success as we move from traditional television viewing habits to younger, more flexible multi-platform media audiences.

Brad Hodge dominates Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge with a start to finish win

Brad Hodge maintained his qualifying form with a decisive and calm victory, leading a determined group of celebrity racers at the 2013 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix today.

Hodge capitalised on mistakes made by Sir Chris Hoy and Jonathan LaPaglia, helping him edge away on the second lap and take the exciting race by an impressive 11.3 seconds.

Richards from go-to-whoa

Victorian Steve Richards has joined his legendary father Jim on the Porsche Carrera Cup winners’ list at Albert Park with an all-the-way victory at Albert Park this afternoon, as the support class program at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix continues to provide some hotly contested competition.

Richards got the better of polesitter Nick Percat from the start, and then successfully kept the shutters up for the remainder of the eight-lapper, despite some very close attention from Craig Baird at first, before Percat took up the cause.

McLaren: ‘Disappointing and tough”, admits Whitmarsh

One year ago McLaren Mercedes almost swept the boards at Albert Park: pole position, front row lock-out, first and third in the race, fastest race lap.

They also ended 2012 on a high when Jenson Button book-ended his season by winning in Brazil as he had in Melbourne.

So what are they doing outside the top 10 in the opening sessions of practice for the first race of 2013?

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