Saturday news briefs from Melbourne

Sat, 27 March 2010, 06:31

Mar.27 (GMM) Mark Webber thrilled a big crowd of his countrymen at Albert Park on Saturday afternoon by setting the quickest time in the pre-qualifying practice session. His Red Bull set more than one lap good enough for the top spot, two tenths ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari as well as Michael Schumacher.

Melbourne’s weather conditions are cooler, windier and darker than on Friday, and a forecast on the TV monitor in the media centre said showers are possible on Saturday for the time of qualifying.

Hollywood actor John Travolta, who is an ambassador for the race’s title sponsor Qantas, arrived at Albert Park just before Saturday’s practice session. Travolta, who will wave the chequered flag late on Sunday, has his own 707 jet in the airline’s 1960s livery.

With Saturday’s paddock abuzz with news of Lewis Hamilton’s brush with the local police, and the British media unsure whether to lambast or defend the 25-year-old, Mark Webber cheekily advised the 2008 world champion to take some driving tips “from Tiger Woods”. But Australian GP organiser Ron Walker defended Hamilton: “He spends a lot of his time talking to young people about road safety. I think he can be forgiven for this indiscretion.”

Nico Hulkenberg was fined EUR1800 for exceeding the pitlane speed limit by 8.6kph in Saturday’s practice session.

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