On Friday, March 14, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished in spots one and two in the second free practice session in Melbourne, Australia, according to Formula 1. In the first free practice session, the first of the season with the new turbo-charged V6 cars, spots one and two went to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Jenson Button.
Setting a time of 1m 29.625s in FP2, Hamilton made up for a disappointing first practice when he radioed, "Car stopped," just 12 minutes into the session from a smoky car at Turn 9, according to Formula 1. Fears over greater trouble with Mercedes, a team thought to be strong going into the Australian GP after pre-season testing, eased when it was determined that a sensor caused the problem, as reported by NBC Sports on-air. In FP2, Rosberg set a time of 1m 29.782s.
In FP1, Alonso clocked a 1m 31.840s time, ahead of Jenson Button's 1m 32.357s for McLaren.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo set the first timed lap of the 2014 Formula 1 season in FP1 with a time of 1m 37.290s at 12m 45.44s into the session, according to Formula 1. His team mate, four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel, came in fourth in FP2 with a time of 1m 30.381s, markedly faster than his seventh place lap speed in FP1 with a time of 1m 32.793s.
American Formula 1 fans will be able to watch both qualifying and the Australian Grand Prix race itself live as it happens via NBC's Sports Network (NBCSN). Re-broadcasts are also scheduled. Below is a TV schedule for the weekend:
Saturday, March 15:
2.00 a.m. ET -- Qualifying, NBCSN -- LIVE
6:00 a.m. ET -- Qualifying, re-broadcast, NBCSN
Sunday, March 16:
2:00 a.m. ET -- Australian Grand Prix, NBCSN -- RACE -- LIVE
6:30 a.m. ET -- Australian Grand Prix, NBCSN -- re-broadcast
In 2014, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull seek to defend their four consecutive drivers' and constructors' championships. However, the major changes in car requirements this season have left the door open for other teams to jump out front, starting in Australia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Ann Kirk, Ph.D. has been credentialed by the FIA to write about Formula 1. With a historic racer from upstate New York, she is working on a book about racers and racing. Check out her blog at Motor Sport Muse.