Sebastian Vettel is under investigation following the first practice session at the Australian Grand Prix.
The four-time champion was forced to stop after reporting a loss of power.
“I have an engine issue, I have got nothing it’s gone,” he said over the radio.
It triggered a second red flag for the session but it was what came after that seems to have caught the eyes of stewards.
Vettel switched to fireman mode taking a fire extinguisher to his own car before hopping on a scooter and doing a lap of the track, waving at fans and having a great time.
But it’s landed him in hot water with the stewards launching an investigation ”for entering the track without permission”.
Fun police on shift at Albert Park it seems.
The team will change the German’s power unit ahead of FP2 which will not incur a penalty.
Vettel is not the only driver under investigation with Carlos Sainz and Zhou Guanyu also being flagged when the former looked to have impeded the Sauber.
As expected, Ferrari topped the time sheets in the first session with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in third and his teammate Max Verstappen fourth.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the McLaren’s managing fifth (Norris) and eighth (Ricciardo).
Lewis Hamilton was seventh.
Seb Vettel stopped with an engine failure in FP1. After the session he borrowed a scooter to get back to the pits – presumably the owner is now trying to get it back…: pic.twitter.com/5C4uZF1REO
— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) April 8, 2022
FINAL ORDER FP1
1:58PM FERRARIS ON TOP
Sainz and Leclerc top the charts 1:19.806 + .571 respectively and both on the softs
1:45PM F1 DRIVERS SLAM AUS GP AS ‘PAINFUL FOR EVERYONE’
Formula One stars Sergio Perez and George Russell have suggested Australia’s current position on the F1 calendar is unviable with the Red Bull driver saying it was “painful for everybody” to travel so far for a single race.
After the Covid pandemic forced the cancellation of the Albert Park Grand Prix the past two years, Australia has lost its traditional position as the F1 season-opener and is the third race on the calendar this year.
In its place, the season opener in 2021 and 2022 was held in Bahrain, which hosts the second and final pre-season test.
“As the season is getting longer and longer, we need to get a better balance.” Perez said
“It works well at the moment because we are doing the winter testing in Bahrain, it makes sense to stay there,” Perez said.
“But it really has to be back-to-back with one of those races because just coming to Australia for a single race is quite painful for everyone.”
Ferrari star Carlos Sainz said it was a shame Melbourne no longer opened the season.
“(It’s a) bit of a shame it is not the number one race,” Sainz said.
“It gives you that extra vibe to come all the way here, it’s such a long trip.”
1:32PM MELBOURNE’S NEW CULT HERO
Guenther Steiner had crowds chanting his name on Thursday – he’s become a fan favourite thanks to Drive to Survive.
He just spoke about how things are at Haas.
“It’s good for Formula One in general but it’s great for us. We were fighting with Fernando who goes first, we have big fans here it was great. I think for the whole team the results have been great it’s been two really tough years.
“The plan has worked out, 12 months with performances like last year they’re long 12 months, we just have to keep it up now. When I told Mick when Keving was coming he was happy. He has someone to lean on now.
“Mick knows he is a little bit behind but he takes it really good. We need a bit of time for him to get used to a very good teammate, Kevin has done very well being out for 14 months. Kevin is not perfect (health wise) but he is OK.”
Ferrari go fastest 1:20.825 for Leclerc on softs
1:20PM RED FLAGGED
FP1 suspended temporarily, Ocon radio-ing in tere is debris on the track which looks to be a front wing off a Red Bull. Marshals unable to get to it so we pause.
Verstappen currently fastest 1:20.909 (softs)
Norris and Leclerc behind the Red Bull.
1:15PM TIMINGS EARLY
Vettel on the softs 1:21.625 clocks the fastest, Leclerc and Ocon behind him and they’re followed byt he two McLarens.
Six minutes into the session and Lance Stroll is having a crack on the radio accusing Lewis Hamilton of impeding him on track. Didn’t take long for the theatrics.
Five cars yet to get on track.
— BWT Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) April 8, 2022
1PM PRACTICE SESSION IS UNDERWAY
Formula One is officially BACK in Melbourne. Cars are on track and we’re about to get our first impressions of the new track. Guaranteeing faster lap times it’s fair to say Michael Schumacher’s long standing lap record will be obliterated this weekend by up to five seconds.
A big focus point this weekend will be DRS, described by some as “a necessary evil”. It’s allowing drivers to play cat and mouse on track but you know what, it makes for more intelligent driving. In the ever boring debate of man vs machine, DRS and the strategy changes it brings means drivers have to think more, this sport is becoming more strategic. I love it.
12:46PM MAKE MELBOURNE SEASON ENDER?
Russell said Melbourne worked as the season-opener but having it in between races made the amount of travel and the time that was needed to adjust to the time zone difference “too tough” on all the Europe-based teams.
If Australia was not going to be the season opener, Russell said the Grand Prix needed to be a double-header with another race in the Middle East or Asia.
“I think Melbourne here as the season-opener was really cool because everybody came up here early and there was a lot of excitement and anticipation,” Russell said.
“But I think having Melbourne in between races, especially as a stand-alone is too tough for the teams and everybody.
“People came out on Saturdays and Sundays to get acclimatised to the conditions, to the time zone change and it is just too much.
“I think it needs to be thought about more. There is no reason we couldn’t do a back-to-back with one of the Middle Eastern races. But it feels like another double-header for all the teams with the amount of time they spend in this part of the world.
Asked if the Australian Grand Prix should end the season instead, Russell said he was happy for Melbourne to be at any position on the calendar, but more thought needed to be given to placing it geographically alongside other races.
“If it is geographically correct….we are happy for it to be at any point of the season. We obviously race very far east with Japan and Singapore, China obviously, not this year, but it is on the calendar from next year onwards,” Russell said.
“I just think there is a better compromise to be had. I know there is a huge amount of limitations involved.
“We need to come to Australia, we need to come to this part of the world, but as we said as a stand-alone it is just too much for everybody.”
Perez said ending the season in Australia could be an option “if it makes sense” but its current position needed to be looked at.
“We all want to come here, but there is ways we can improve and in fairness to F1 Australia hasn’t been on the calendar for the last (two) years,” Perez said.
“I’m sure that going forward they can have a look at it.”
The FIA has highlighted a bizarre rule ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in what many believe is a thinly veiled swipe at Lewis Hamilton.
Race director Niels Wittich went public to remind drivers they are not to wear jewellery while in their cars or during track sessions as stated in Article 5 of the third chapter of Appendix L from the FIA’s International Sporting Code.
“The wearing of jewellery in the form of body piercing or metal neck chains is prohibited during the competition and may therefore be checked before the start,” the rule states.
While many drivers sport bracelets and necklaces, Hamilton is the only one sporting nose and ear piercings.
It has been part of the sporting regulations since 2005.
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NOD TO SCHUMACHER’S LEGACY
Mick Schumacher’s legendary father Michael holds the lap record at Albert Park and he fondly remembers travelling to Melbourne as a child to watch his dad in action.
Now a Formula One driver himself, the 23-year-old will follow in his footsteps when he races at the Australian Grand Prix for the first time this weekend.
“I’m quite excited, I’m looking forward to getting to know the track and getting to know the city as well,” said the Haas driver.
“I’ve been here with my dad and have watched him race in Melbourne, that was really cool, and I’m excited to drive here myself and make my own experiences of driving in Formula 1 in Australia.” Schumacher is fortunate to be in Melbourne after escaping uninjured from a horror crash in qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
He had to be lifted out of his wrecked car after clipping a kerb at high speed and airlifted to hospital for precautionary tests, before being ruled out of the race.
The Swiss-born German said afterwards he was “feeling alright” and his attention is now fully on conquering Albert Park, just like his seven-time world champion father did with four victories in his Ferrari in the early 2000s.
During that dominant run, he set a blistering lap record of 1:24.125 in 2004 which still stands today. It will likely not survive the weekend, with significant changes to the circuit set to shave lap times by as much as five seconds.
“My dad holds the lap record in a 2004 Ferrari. I got the chance to drive that car and it’s an amazing car,” said Schumacher.
“We’ll make our own laps in a similar-looking car, actually. The cars have turned back in time and they’re looking a bit more like they used to with the high front wing, so it will be interesting.”
MERCEDES HAVE NO MAGIC FIX
Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of winning a third Australian Grand Prix were handed a reality check by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who warned there was “no magic fix” to the problems plaguing his car.
The once-dominant Silver Arrows have fallen well short of Red Bull and Ferrari in the opening two races of the season following a series of design changes to comply with new regulations for the 2022 season.
A key problem has been porpoising — bouncing at high speed — and Mercedes have been working round the clock to remedy the issue at their British base since the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix two weeks ago.
But while Mercedes, who have won the last eight constructors’ world championships, are tipped to introduce a new rear wing in Melbourne, Wolff warned they still had a lot to do.
“We are in a learning race and the first two weekends have shown we still have plenty to learn,” he said.
“At the moment, our track performance is not meeting our own expectations, but everyone at Brackley and Brixworth is focused on understanding the problems and finding the right solutions.
“There won’t be a magic fix for the next race weekend, but we’re pushing to steadily bring gains over the upcoming races, to hopefully move us closer to the front of the pack.
“Until then, we need to maximise each opportunity and make the most of the package we have.” At the opener in Bahrain, seven-time world champion Hamilton finished third behind the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, but only after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez retired in the closing stages. Hamilton’s teammate George Russell was fourth.
In Saudi Arabia, Hamilton managed only 10th, while Russell fared a little better in fifth, but still considerably off the pace of the Ferraris and Red Bulls who filled the top four.
Despite the frustrations, Wolff praised his drivers’ patience. “There are various challenges ahead of us, but that’s something we relish and is when a team really shows its true spirit,” he said.
“Lewis and George are making an important contribution to the overall effort, providing feedback, spending time in the simulator and working together to help push us forward.” The early-season problems have left Mercedes trailing Ferrari by 40 points in the constructors’ championship after two grands prix, with Hamilton in fifth place in the drivers’ standings, 29 adrift of leader Leclerc.
Hamilton has claimed pole position eight times in Melbourne, including the last six. He won in 2008 and 2015.
Mick Schumacher has opened up on his high-speed crash in Saudi Arabia, declaring he has no after effects from the frightening smash as he prepares for his first race in Australia.
The son of Formula One legend Michael Schumacher avoided injury after his car was wrecked in the qualifying smash at the second Grand Prix of the season.
Schumacher was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks after the 270kmph crash and did not take part in the race.
The Haas driver lost control after his car clipped a kerb, spun and then smashed into the barrier sideways.
Ahead of his first Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Schumacher, 23, said he could have raced in Saudi Arabia but the decision was made not to in order to preserve the car for Melbourne.
“There were no after effects still, so I was ready to race (in Saudi Arabia),” Schumacher said.
“But we did it for specific reasons and (I’m) happy to be here now.
“I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t race.”
Asked how easy it will be to erase the crash from his mind as he prepares to go racing again, Schumacher said drivers had to push the limit to progress through qualifying.
But he suggested some aspects of the circuit might need to be reviewed.
“Obviously you try your best not to crash but you also want to go as quick as you can,” Schumacher said.
“On that lap we were on a good lap, it was the final run of Q2 and to be able to get into Q3 you had to try something and we did.
“I did get onto that kerb and the kerb was just high for this year’s car …. so I guess that is something that we will have to review.
“The fundamental problem is quite clear. I think there were other teams or other drivers that had similar issues.
“So it is something that we will have to address, it’s something that we will probably have a look at.
“But there is always the risk when you are trying hard.”
This weekend’s Grand Prix will be Schumacher’s first in Australia where his father was a four-time Australian Grand Prix winner.
“It’s great to be back. The last time I visited Australia was at the beginning of 2019 and to be able to come here now and race …. back then I was just dreaming of it and now it is reality,” Schumacher said.
“I’m happy to have been able to spend some time around here and I’m looking forward to this weekend.”
Schumacher finished 11th in the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain while his teammate Kevin Magnussen has finished in the points in the first two races.
He said his expectations were “high” to secure his first points for the year.
“We always want to score points and we were close in Bahrain and that was after contact,” Schumacher said.
“So I think that the expectations are high of being in the points this weekend and I am sure we will get there.”