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12-15 MARCH 2015

Saturday preview: qualified optimism

“McLaren look quick, but with Ferrari you can never tell…” Mark Webber knows where the main opposition is as he bids to plant his Red Bull racer on the front row at Albert Park for the second time in a row.

Webber topped the first free practice session on Friday and joined last year’s ‘Big Five’ at the front of the second, but today is the day when things get really serious at the 2011 Formula One Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

Opportunity knocks

Misfortune for a former teammate has opened the door for Nick Heidfeld to make a long-awaited breakthrough

by Matthew Clayton

After 172 Grand Prix starts, Nick Heidfeld’s Formula One career appeared to be over. Called in late last year at Sauber to replace Spaniard Pedro de le Rosa, the 33-year-old did a solid if unspectacular job, and with the Swiss team having signed Mexican Sergio Perez for 2011, Heidfeld was out of a job – and perhaps out of the sport for good.

Van Giz Fastest and Retains Pole Chance

Ford’s Shane van Gisbergen set the fastest time during Thursday evening’s V8 Supercar qualifying session at Albert Park, and will have a chance to challenge for pole position during tomorrow’s Top 10 Shoot-out.

As the fastest qualifier, van Gisbergen was in charge of randomly selecting how much of the field will be inverted before the Top 10 Shootout.

The number eight was selected, meaning that his team-mate Tim Slade was effectively ‘bumped’ to fastest, but the participants in tomorrow’s Shoot-out aren’t affected – only their running order.

Team Chiefs Happy with Opening Day

McLaren-Mercedes team chief Martin Whitmarsh was happy but realistic on Friday after seeing his drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton top the times in second free practice for Sunday’s season-opening Qantas Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

“We have had a very solid, but very encouraging day, but it is only a Friday,” he said. “And there are no points won yet – and we have not yet seen the best of Red Bull. But we are happy and we hope to score some decent points on Sunday.”

Dywer races to pole in F5000

UK driver Mark Dwyer has seized pole position in the F5000 open-wheeler class at the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.

In the 20-minute qualifying session at Albert Park, Dywer quickly got down to business in his Lola T400 and set his best lap of 1min 58.3670secs early on, a benchmark which his competitors failed to eclipse in the final, frenetic minutes.

Richards starring in Albert Park cameo

Jason Richards has a spring in his step, and he can thank his Commodore V8 Supercar for the ebullience.

The 34-year-old New Zealander, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in November last year, is making a cameo appearance in the V8 Supercar program at the Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix, and his form in the Team BOC Commodore has been nothing short of irresistible.

Richards will start from grid position five in this evening’s race one of the V8 Supercars Albert Park 400, which has left him gobsmacked.

Tough task for tail-enders

Two teams face a fight to make it to the grid on Sunday…

by Matthew Clayton

While Red Bull and McLaren hogged the limelight on Friday at the Qantas Australian Grand Prix, there were some long faces at the tail-end of the paddock.

Backmarkers Marussia Virgin and HRT both endured horror days to kick off their second season in Formula One.

Virgin’s drivers Timo Glock and rookie Jérôme D’Ambrosio weren’t able to record times within 107 per cent of the session-best laps set by Mark Webber and Jenson Button in practice one and two respectively.

Skaife: Porsche Like an Open-Wheeler

Reigning Bathurst 1000 Champion Mark Skaife says his Porsche Carrera Cup debut at the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix has reminded him of his open-wheeler days.

Before becoming a legend of V8 Supercar racing, Skaife was an open-wheeler king, winning three Australian Drivers’ Championships in Formula Holden.

This weekend, Skaife has added another category to his impressive CV, with his first run in the Porsche Carrera Cup.

Horner Happy with Red Bull Pace

Defending champion Red Bull’s chief Christian Horner was happy with his team's domination of opening practice - and Mark Webber's late lap to be the first man under the 1:27 barrier at Albert Park and outpace team-mate and champion Sebastian Vettel. 

Horner said: "It is always difficult to know what everyone is doing, but that was a very good lap from Mark and a very good time. I think we are happy with the first session and we have a lot of good data now - the circuit is cleaning itself up all the time so I expect it to get faster and faster.

Maddison in all his extreme glory

The standard description of Robbie Maddison is ‘Aussie daredevil’, and it’s not hard to understand why.

After all, he has made a name for himself testing his outer limits and those of his motocross bikes in a series of one-off ‘misadventures’, which have propelled him into the pantheon of adventure sport practitioners.

And there’s still a lot more to come, we are told, in a variety of different locations. Antarctica perhaps? Don’t bet against it.


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