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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?

Fans race to Albert Park for F1 action

Another beautiful Melbourne day greeted an estimated 70,300 fans who came to watch the stars of Formula One take to the Albert Park circuit for the first time this season.

Hometown heroes Mark Webber and Daniel Ricciardo kicked-off practice alongside World Champions Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel ended up setting the pace ahead of his teammate Mark Webber as they showed their rivals a clean set of wings.

Second Practice: Vettel fastest, Hamilton halted, McLaren missing

Sebastian Vettel again topped free practice for Red Bull Renault as the second 90-minute session ended in a flurry of activity involving some of the biggest names in the field.

Vettel used Pirelli’s Supersoft (red) tyres, making their first appearance at Albert Park, to set a session-best time of 1:25.908 just over halfway through, paring 1.3 seconds off the time that put the World Champion top in the day’s opening free practice.

Coulthard’s perfect outing continues

Fabian Coulthard’s flawless MSS Security-backed V8 Supercars Challenge campaign at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix has continued, with the Holden driver winning the second 12-lap race this afternoon to add to his success earlier today.

The only driver who proved to be of minor nuisance value for Coulthard was fellow-Holden driver Craig Lowndes, but the New Zealander dispensed with him on lap nine, and was then unchallenged to the finish.

First Practice

Everyone has been saying not much has changed in Formula 1® for the start of 2013 – and Sebastian Vettel underlined that fact by taking top spot in the first free practice session of the season at a sunny Albert Park.

The man who has been the sport’s #1 for the last three seasons went to the top two-thirds of the way through the 90-minute session with a lap in 1 minute 27.211 seconds for Red Bull Renault.

Coulthard walks tall in opening Albert Park encounter

New Zealander Fabian Coulthard has lifted a millstone from his neck with a maiden V8 Supercar victory in today’s opening hitout in the MSS Security-backed V8 Supercars Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

With only one podium to show for all his V8 Supercar toil over the last four years, Coulthard’s breakout victory in his Holden Commodore VF at Albert Park was decisive.

He completed the 11-lap race 1.7467 seconds ahead of team-mate Jason Bright, with the fast-finishing Will Davison (Ford Falcon FG) claiming the last spot on the podium.

Shannons Historic Demonstration

Great names all – including Paddins

He has the face of a boxer, the lilt of a Celt and the heart of an historic racing man.

He’s Paddins Dowling, and that exotic-sounding name sits well in the history of the beautiful Maserati 4CL which he is driving in the Shannons Historic Demonstration and Parade this weekend.

The stunning-looking car is actually the first of the 17 4CL’s built in Bologna just before the Second World War. “1564 – it’s the first-ever, the prototype they made for Luigi Villoresi and Felice Trossi to race,” says Paddins proudly.

Second chance to make an F1 impression

On the night of April 17, 2011, just a few hours after the Chinese Grand Prix, Adrian Sutil joined many others at a celebratory party in a Shanghai nightclub.

His friend Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, had won the race for McLaren. The celebrants ordered champagne and the mood was festive.

Festive, that is, until an incident in which the German-born racing driver was subsequently ruled to have used a champagne glass to inflict grievous bodily harm on Luxembourg entrepreneur Eric Lux, the chief executive of Genii Capital.

Brad Hodge scores pole position for opening race of Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge

Former Australian Test Cricketer Brad Hodge has taken pole position of the first Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge race at the 2013 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Hodge edged out actor Jonathan LaPaglia and Britain’s greatest ever Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in an electrifying qualifying session today at Albert Park.

Hodge said after the race that all his training with Mark Skaife this week paid off in spades today.

Coulthard breaks through for maiden pole

Fabian Coulthard has given his V8 Supercar career a real shot in the arm by qualifying on pole position in the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

The 31-year-old New Zealander – the second cousin of former F1 driver David Coulthard – was the only driver to eclipse Craig Lowndes’ V8 Supercar lap record around Albert Park in the 30-minute qualifying session, and he did so with 0.3491 seconds to spare over Brad Jones Racing team-mate Jason Bright, both steering Holden Commodore VFs.

“Track conditions were perfect today, and I had


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