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As it happened: Friday Practice 1
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
01:15 Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live, as we gear up for a new, exciting beginning to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Anticipation has been building for weeks, and finally now is the time - round one, the ING Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park, Melbourne.

01:17 Today, we will guide you through the opening practice sessions with minute-by-minute commentary as the teams and drivers begin their preparations for the first race of 2009.

First practice will begin shortly, with commentary ending 15 minutes after the session has concluded.

Later, at 05:15 GMT, we will return for live coverage of the second practice session. AUTOSPORT Live will end the day with a Saturday weather forecast, on the Australian Grand Prix weather page.

01:19 AUTOSPORT forum members are invited to join the fun throughout the weekend, offering thoughts and opinions as the event unfolds.

With so many unknowns heading in to the season, there are lots of topics to debate as the story unfolds during the opening practice sessions.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

01:21 The weather is thankfully set fair for the opening round of the new campaign.

An area of high pressure will dominate proceedings, bringing with it dry conditions and some sunshine. There will be some cloudy periods from time to time, but the weather picture should improve as we progress through the afternoon and into the evening.

A light breeze from the west will peg back the maximum temperature to 19 Celsius - perhaps dropping by a degree or two as we conclude the second session.

01:23 Almost five months ago, the 2008 season ended with the most dramatic title decider for many years. The new world champion arrives in Melbourne to face his challengers, with a McLaren Mercedes MP4-24 that has set less than convincing times at recent test sessions in Barcelona and Jerez.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing diffuser row, it will be interesting to see how McLaren, and indeed Ferrari, cope with the pace of Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams - teams that have set the leading times in winter testing.

01:25 The pitlane exit lights will flick to green in five minutes, signalling the eagerly-anticipated start of the 2009 Formula 1 season.

01:26 The track temperature is 25 Celsius with an 18 degree ambient.

01:27 The new season brings in a host of rule changes, with some of the most significant alterations to the formula in a decade.

Full details of the drivers, teams, circuits and rules can be found in our interactive 2009 F1 guide.

01:29 Lewis Hamilton is strapped snugly into in McLaren Mercedes, ahead of the session.

The drivers look ready for early laps around the track, including debutant Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso STR4.

01:30 The pit exit light is green and F1 2009 is underway in Australia.

01:30 Giancarlo Fisichella opens the new season as he leaves the pitlane in the Force India.

01:31 He is joined by his team-mate Adrian Sutil, both BMW drivers and both Toro Rosso pilots.

01:31 The installation laps are underway, giving these brand-new cars a chance to take a lap of the track and then head back to the pits to be checked over.

01:33 Fisichella returns to the pits and the download of early data can begin in the garage to make sure everything on the car is functioning properly.

01:33 Mark Webber and Felipe Massa are running in tandem around the circuit. Both return to the pitlane at the end of their installation lap.

01:35 Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button and Timo Glock venture out onto the track.

They all return to the pitlane, as Rubens Barrichello watches the monitor to check on his rivals' progress.

01:37 Heikki Kovalainen makes his way round the Albert Park circuit and comes back into the pits.

Only Fernando Alonso and Brawn GP driver Rubens Barrichello have yet to come out.

01:39 The circuit falls silent as the mechanics check over each of the cars and the engineers pour over the data collected during the installation lap.

01:39 In the Renault garage, we see three-time world champion Nelson Piquet Snr checking out the conditions, while at McLaren Lewis Hamilton's father Anthony discusses the first lap of the season with his son.

01:42 Slick tyres make a welcome return to the sport in 2009. Once again, Bridgestone is providing four different rubber compounds during the year and is bringing a pair of tyre options to each race.

Here in Melbourne, the Medium and Super Soft tyres are available to the teams, with the latter marked by a green band on the sidewall.

01:43 Felipe Massa is taking on fluid in the Ferrari garage while the data download and checking over of the cars continues.

Nick Heidfeld takes a walk from the garage to the BMW pitwall to have a chat with his team.

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is in the Ferrari garage, and makes a beeline out the back of the garage into the paddock.

01:45 It is a lengthy wait for the action to resume in Melbourne. The Albert Park circuit is mainly formed from public roads, so the track conditions will be far from ideal until rubber is laid on the asphalt.

01:47 Robert Kubica looks extremely relaxed. The Pole is sitting atop the tool trolleys at the back of the BMW garage, and chatting happily with his manager, Daniel Morelli.

Mark Webber looks pensive as he concentrates on the action to come, no doubt pleased that the action at his home grand prix is underway.

01:50 Sebastien Bourdais looks concentrated outside the Toro Rosso garage, as he chats with Alex Wurz.

The spectators around the circuit are waiting patiently as this period of inactivity continues.

01:52 Renault boss Flavio Briatore is deep in conversation with Nelson Piquet Snr, while Sebastien Buemi sits inside his Toro Rosso, waiting for the real action to begin.

01:53 Each car now has an allocation of eight engines for the whole season, with the two-race engine rule having been abandoned over the winter.

A driver will only suffer grid penalties once the eight-engine limit is exceeded, so the teams will obviously be keen to limit the mileage at this early point in the season - despite the fact that private testing, away from the race events, is now banned for the rest of the year.

01:54 In the distance we can hear an engine. It is that of Rubens Barrichello, and yes, the Brazilian leaves the Brawn GP garage and joins the racetrack.

01:55 As Barrichello continues round on his first lap out of the pits, his team-mate Jenson Button watches the monitor intently.

01:56 Sebastien Buemi has also come out onto the track, as Barrichello rounds Turn 15 and comes back into the pitlane.

01:57 Buemi continues round the final corner, and begins possibly the first timed lap of the 2009 season.

01:58 Buemi, perhaps understandably, is taking things cautiously having never driven the Albert Park circuit before. He completes the lap and posts the first laptime - 1:41.493.

02:00 Buemi is the only driver currently on track, and he comes round to complete a second tour, lowering his time to 1:36.659.

02:01 As the Swiss continues to learn the circuit layout properly, his times are coming down in leaps and bounds. His third timed lap is 1:35.296.

02:02 Kimi Raikkonen is heading out of the pits in the Ferrari to begin his preparations for Sunday's grand prix.

02:03 Raikkonen starts his first flying lap of 2009.

02:03 Sebastien Buemi posts a fourth time on this current run of early laps. He goes faster again - 1:33.622.

02:04 Kimi's first effort is a 1:32.121, the quickest lap of the session so far.

02:05 The progress of Sebastien Buemi is halted on his fifth timed lap, as he continues his first run of laps.

02:06 Replays show rookie Buemi had his first off-track moment of the campaign as he bounced over the grass at Turn 9.

02:07 Fernando Alonso is the last driver to come out onto the track for an installation lap. He returns to pitlane.

02:09 Sebastien Buemi has come back into the pits following his first run.

Nico Rosberg has completed his first timed lap and posts a 1:34.330 to slot into third behind Raikkonen and Buemi.

02:09 Kimi Raikkonen continues to top the timesheet with his best lap so far a 1:28.718. The Finn's progress was briefly halted with a moment into Turn 1, which he recovered over the grass.

02:10 Nick Heidfeld moves into second with a 1:31.735 in the BMW, but moments later loses that to Rosberg, who improves with a lap of 1:29.962.

02:10 Meanwhile, team-mate Felipe Massa is also off the road - losing the back end of his Ferrari under braking at Turn 15, just before the pits.

The Brazilian spins his Ferrari around in the run-off and continues.

02:11 Jarno Trulli is now third in the Toyota TF109 having posted a 1:31.589. Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Rosberg remain the top two so far.

02:12 Jenson Button posts his first laptime of the weekend. It is a 1:31.060 and that places the Briton seventh so far.

02:12 Lewis Hamilton's latest lap is a 1:30.590, putting the McLaren fourth but over two seconds slower than the leading pace at the moment.

02:14 Felipe Massa has recovered from his earlier off to go second quickest, while his team-mate continues to improve the benchmark time.

02:14 Jenson Button continues for a second timed lap and he improves to second place with 1:28.641, splitting the Ferraris.

02:15 The first casualty of the new season is Sebastian Vettel. The German has pulled off to the side of the track in his Red Bull Renault with a technical problem.

02:15 The Red Bull team report problems with hydraulic pressure for Vettel's stricken car.

02:16 Raikkonen, Button and Heidfeld are now back in the pits fgollowing their first runs.

Nico Rosberg is on a flying lap and looking set to improve on his current fifth position, but the Williams driver backs off towards the end of the lap.

02:17 Replays catch a big moment for Hamilton's McLaren, with the rear of his car jumping out of line approaching Turn 14. The world champion bounced over the grass and gravel, but continues.

02:19 With just over half of the opening session gone, Kimi Raikkonen leads the field with 1:28.458, with Nico Rosberg now second (1:28.501), Jenson Button third and Felipe Massa fourth in the second Ferrari.

02:19 Heikki Kovalainen crosses the line with an impressive 1:27.982 to top the session at this early stage.

02:20 Rubens Barrichello moves up the classification to fifth place with 1:28.731, just under one tenth of a second behind Brawn GP team-mate Jenson Button.

02:21 Track conditions continue to improve as rubber goes down on the asphalt and the dirty surface of the public roads gets cleaned up by the lapping cars.

02:21 Barrichello goes on for another lap, and here we go - the Brawn GP 001 heads the list with a solid 1:27.743, demoting Heikki Kovalainen to second.

02:23 Timo Glock shows good pace in the Toyota, moving well up the order to third position - 1:28.418.

02:25 Adrian Sutil in the Force India sets a fastest second sector time around the Albert Park circuit, which helps him move into the top ten with a time of 1:29.062.

02:27 The harder tyre is being used for all the laps at the moment. Teams will be keen to conserve their Super Soft rubber for later in the day, when improving track conditions will be more suitable for the potentially fragile softer option.

02:27 Sebastien Bourdais is on track in the Toro Rosso. He completes a timed lap but remains 19th in the standings, his last lap being a 1:33.408 - over five seconds off the leading pace.

02:28 Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari is on track using the softer option tyres.

02:29 Fernando Alonso has come out onto the track, and is circulating in the Renault R29. The Spaniard has yet to post a laptime in the session, but we expect him to do so imminently.

He crosses the line to begin his first timed lap.

02:30 Raikkonen jumps to the top of the timesheet with the aid of the soft tyres. The time is 1:26.750 - almost a second quicker than Barrichello's previous best on the harder rubber.

02:31 Alonso completes that first lap and the time is 1:30.338. He is 17th so far.

02:32 Sebastien Bourdais has continued on this run of laps, but has only improved one place to 18th in the Toro Rosso. The Frenchman is now four seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen's leading pace.

02:32 Raikkonen's leading time is close to the 1:26.461 he set to top this session last year, despite the radical changes to the car design for 2009.

02:34 Fernando Alonso completes a second timed lap in the Renault but does not improve in position. He stays in 17th position.

In replay, we see him fighting the car in Turn 9 as he tries to find grip around the still-dirty circuit.

02:35 Nick Heidfeld moves his BMW up the table with a 1:28.768 effort for seventh.

02:37 Alonso is having real trouble with the balance of his Renault, but nevertheless he manhandles the R29 into seventh place with a lap of 1:28.710, then on the next lap improves by a tenth of a second to 1:28.613, which is 1.8 seconds behind Raikkonen's pacesetting 1:26.750.

02:39 Jenson Button moved his Brawn GP 001 up from fourth to second place on his second short run of laps. His time is 1:27.467. His team-mate Rubens Barrichello is third in the classification currently.

02:40 Felipe Massa improves to fifth as he continues a longer run of laps.

02:41 Kazuki Nakajima's latest run comes to an early end with a trip across the grass at Turn 15. The Japanese driver returns to the pits and the reason for his excursion becomes obvious - a right-rear puncture.

02:41 Nelson Piquet has a big off at Turn 1 - losing the back end of his Renault and ending up in the gravel trap. He does get the car moving, and slowly returns to the circuit with a dusty car.

02:42 Third-placed Rubens Barrichello joins the racetrack, and we await his next laps with interest.

02:44 Nico Rosberg is out on track in the Williams. He is very quick on his latest flying lap around Albert Park, and moves up from fourth to second position with a 1:27.293.

02:45 Rosberg is setting those impressive times with the harder tyre option on his Williams.

02:47 Rubens Barrichello has yet to improve on his current 1:27.743, which places him fourth.

His sector times look quick, but now on his third timed lap of this run he improves by two tenths of a second, to 1:27.582. He remains fourth.

02:48 There is a slight lull in the action as the majority of the cars are in the pits to prepare for a final run.

02:50 Rubens Barrichello investigates the run-off areas around the track. He runs wide at Turn 1, but no damage is done to the Brawn GP entry and he continues.

02:52 Sebastien Bourdais continues to pound round the circuit in the Toro Rosso STR4. He is slowly improving in time - now down to a 1:29.499, but it does nothing to improve his overall position. He is now 18th in the classification.

02:53 Heikki Kovalainen is back out in the McLaren and continues to lap on the harder tyre. He sets his best time of the day - a 1:27.453 to go third quickest.

02:53 Kazuki Nakajima vaults up the order from 14th place to sixth in the Williams FW31, having improved his time to a 1:27.964 on his latest lap.

02:55 Lewis Hamilton locks up the left front wheel of his McLaren, forcing him off the road at Turn 6. He continues, but remains only 15th in the standings.

02:56 Nakajima improves further on his next lap - 1:27.615, but he remains in sixth position.

Kimi Raikkonen leads the standings with five minutes to go with 1:26.750. Nico Rosberg is second, Heikki Kovalainen third, Jenson Button fourth and his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello is in fifth place.

02:57 Adrian Sutil has set another strong time in the Force India. The German has moved up to seventh place with a time of 1:27.993 - just over one second away from Raikkonen.

02:57 Pace-setter Kimi Raikkonen pits after his latest run on the harder tyre, having used the softer rubber to set that quick time earlier in the session.

02:59 Fernando Alonso attempts to improve from his current 14th place. His Renault is clearly a challenge to drive in this first practice session of the new season, as he struggles to put down the power exiting Turn 1.

03:00 The session has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.

03:00 Nico Rosberg sets two fastest sector times on his way to topping Kimi Raikkonen's time and taking P1. A 1:26.687 just shades the Finn.

03:02 Kazuki Nakajima also improved on his latest lap, moving up to fourth with 1:27.287.

He goes even faster and makes it a Williams one-two right at the end of the session with 1:26.736.

03:02 Robert Kubica ends his session with frustration as he encounters a slow car at Turn 9.

03:03 Nico Rosberg takes the honours at the end of the first practice in Melbourne ahead of his Williams team-mate Kazuki Nakajima.

Kimi Raikkonen ended third, with Rubens Barrichello fourth, Heikki Kovalainen fifth and Jenson Button in sixth place.

03:07 The teams now have a two-and-a-half hour break to look at the data collected during first practice and consider adjustments to the cars' set-up to be made ahead of the second practice session, as they continue to dial in their new machines to the Albert Park circuit.

03:10 The session report is now available:

Rosberg tops first Australia practice

03:15 An extremely slow start to the opening practice session in Melbourne, but after 30 of the 90 minutes the drivers began to set times and get laps under their belt.

Williams, Ferrari and Brawn GP look quick, but will it stay that way later today?

Join us for the second practice live from Melbourne from 05:15 GMT as we continue the story of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park.

Session length: 90 minutes
Mainly sunny High Temp: 19°C / 66°F
Track: Dry
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Monday 23 Mar Start GMT
 Australian Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 27 Mar
 Friday Practice 1 01:15
 Friday Practice 2 05:15
Saturday 28 Mar
 Saturday Practice 02:45
 Qualifying 05:45
Sunday 29 Mar
 Race day at Albert Park 04:30
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

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