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Williams pair quickest in opening F1 practice

NICO Rosberg of Williams topped the time sheets after today's opening practice session for Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Rosberg posted a best time of 1 minute, 26.687 seconds around the Albert Park circuit, as teams had their first pre-race opportunity to test a raft of offseason rule changes to aerodynamics, tires and the KERS power-boost.

Rosberg's Williams teammate Kazuki Nakajima had the second best time, 1:26.736. Williams, Brawn and Toyota are racing under appeal this weekend, with other teams set to challenge the legality of their cars following next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest on a sunny day, with mild on-track temperatures, setting a best of 1:26.750.

He was ahead of Brawn's Rubens Barrichello in 1:27.266, with the new F1 team not yet dominating its opposition in the manner it did during preseason testing.

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen was fifth fastest, well ahead of teammate and 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton, who was 16th on the timesheets, lending credence to his pre-race claim that McLaren was well off the pace of it rivals.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who was beaten to last year's championship by a single point, was seventh quickest in the opening session, just behind Brawn's Jenson Button. Toyota's Timo Glock rounded out the top eight.

The only casualty of the opening session was Sebastian Vettel, whose first practice session with Red Bull ended quickly, pulling off the track with a reliability failure. His teammate and local Australian hope Mark Webber also had limited running time, with the Red Bull pair only completing 11 laps between them.

There were various excursions off the track, with Nakajima shredding a rear tire and Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr. spinning through a gravel trap.


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