Date: 25th March 2011 at 12:43pm
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The opening two practice sessions in Australia has really lifted the excitement levels around Formula One.

Following the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix, we were all relieved to finally get going in Australia, but now with the Friday practice sessions out the way, the anticipation levels are continuing to build.

Red Bull and Ferrari remain consistent, but McLaren, Mercedes and Williams all look strong and could be in the mix in the final qualification session on Saturday.

?These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren?s turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive.’ Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso told formula1.com.

The first practice session showed a clear advantage for Red Bull, while the second practice session was a lot more competitive.

McLaren may well have topped the times with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton first and second, but Alonso, Vettel, Webber, were all within half a second of Button’s time, with Schumacher and Massa also within a second.

Alonso added: ‘There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore it?s obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row.

However with the new Pirelli tyres having such a big influence on race strategies, teams will still be able to recover in the race if qualifying does not go as planned.

From what we have seen, the soft tyre shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tyres than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behaviour carefully, circuit by circuit.’ Felipe Massa added.

Reports suggest that teams will be making at least two pit stops in Melbourne while some teams suggest they may need to make as many as four stops, making predicting the outcome of the race very difficult indeed.

However if you fancy a challenge, it is not too late to enter our VitalF1.com Prediction Competition.

 

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