Red Bull sets pace in practice

Last year's Formula One champions Red Bull Racing boosted their title hopes by clinching the first place in the first practice run ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

However, the first 90-minute session at Albert Park in Melbourne raised several concerns, especially with regards to the new Pirelli tyres, which have replaced Bridgestone from the 2011 season.

It is anticipated that the new tyres will play an important role in determining who wins the championship this year.

A television shot revealed that a significant chunk of rubber was missing from current title holder Sebastian Vettel's car tyre.

Later it was found the flatspotted tyre of Ferrari driver Felipe Massa's car had also sustained severe damage.

It is this high degradation of the Pirellis that has sparked one of the major talking points of the pre-season, and at this rate, could well result in many concerns being aired.

The expectation is that after the bulletproof reliability of the Bridgestones that necessitated just one change per race, and then only because the rules forced the teams to do so, the likelihood is there will be three, potentially four pit stops on Sunday.

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