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Mark Webber set the pace in the opening practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, delivering a personal best time of 1:36.935. The Australian edged out Melbourne winner Kimi Räikkönen by 0.068 seconds, while Red Bull team-mate and reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel completed the top three.
With typical hot and humid conditions greeting the Formula 1 paddock on Friday morning, teams were left with little choice but to save their single Hard tyre allocation for as long as possible. Flying laps began to arrive after a lull of around 30 minutes, with Webber coming off best at the end of the first one and a half hours of track action.
Räikkönen suffered a few technical issues before and after his fastest run in the Lotus, with KERS and gear selection gremlins hindering his efforts. Despite this, a strong run placed him ahead of Vettel, who completed 21 laps to lead the early mileage stakes. Fernando Alonso was best of the rest for Ferrari, with the Spaniard starting his 200th Grand Prix weekend in fourth place, just ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Adrian Sutil, Felipe Massa and Paul di Resta were separated by just four thousandths of a second from positions six to eight, with Lewis Hamilton a little further back in ninth. Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten, leaving McLaren duo Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez 11th and 13th respectively after a morning of extensive set-up work.
At the back, Giedo van der Garde led the battle for Caterham. The Dutchman, who posted a time within a second of Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo, wound up ahead of Jules Bianchi, with team-mate Charles Pic and Max Chilton bringing up the rear.
Friday's second practice session at Sepang gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +8) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature
|1.||M. Webber||Red Bull||01:36.935||15|
|3.||S. Vettel||Red Bull||01:37.104||21|
|6.||A. Sutil||Force India||01:37.769||17|
|8.||P. di Resta||Force India||01:37.773||15|
|16 Jun||Horner: Vettel agreement perfect timing|
|14 Jun||Félix Da Costa set for Durban F1 demo|
|12 Jun||Horner: Can't write off anyone|
|11 Jun||Vettel extends contract with Red Bull|
|2013 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix|
|31 Mar||Villeneuve: Vettel's behaviour was stupid|
|29 Mar||Horner: Webber would have done the same|
|28 Mar||Video: Malaysian Grand Prix highlights|
|27 Mar||Ecclestone backs Vettel over Sepang row|
|8 Jun||Webber leads shortened final practice|
|8 Jun||Webber, Bottas reprimanded by stewards|
|26 May||We were just saving tyres, says Webber|
|23 May||'No pecking order surprises' – Webber|
|20 Jun||Test permission not granted, reiterates FIA|
|20 Jun||The International Tribunal judging panel|
|More Mark Webber photos|