McLaren look decidedly unsure on their setup with even Martin Whitmarsh downbeat on the MP4-28 when interviewed during FP2. Ferrari seem to have completed a turn around for this years launch carrying across the knowledge from the latter spec of the F2012 with Felipe Massa seemingly back to his best form. Lotus are once again showing signs of good tyre usage with low degradation when compared to some of their rivals on the longer runs. Mercedes have definitely closed the gap to the front runners but I'm still to be convinced they have either the raw or race pace to bring home the top result. Red Bull seemingly have a great package once again in the RB9 although they may find they need to get their elbows out on occasions as I think some of the teams around them could challenge them here in Melbourne both in qually and the race. There once again appears to be a little gap between those already mentioned and the likes of Sauber, Williams and Force India with the latter looking stronger here in Melbourne than they did in pre-season testing.
Pirelli are convinced we are on target for a 2/3 stop race which will rely heavily on a teams starting position and the use of newer rubber. Paul Hembery mentioning on twitter that the difference between their Super Soft and Medium compound is averaging 1 second as predicted with degradation of 0.25 seconds meaning a cross over after 8/9 laps.
Melbourne isn't usually a circuit that gives up lots of overtaking and so it could be argued that grid position is vital but with a difference in strategy available through less tyre wear to those just outside the top 10 we could see drivers coming through the field by virtue of pit strategy.
Below are links to the lap and classifications for both sessions:
Free Practice 1 - Lap Times
Free Practice 1 - Classification
Free Practice 2 - Lap Times
Free Practice 2 - Classification