Rosberg eases to FP1 top spot but Hamilton hits trouble

Nico Rosberg set a commanding pace in opening practice for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, but his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Lewis Hamilton stopped on circuit before setting a lap time.

Rosberg set a best time of 1m40.124s to beat the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg had been over a second clear of everyone for the first hour of the session, but late improvements saw Raikkonen get within four tenths of a second, although it looked like Rosberg had plenty of time in his pocket after setting better sector times without completing the laps.

Hamilton on the other hand was asked to stop on circuit at turn nine by his team as a precautionary measure after only completing four un-timed laps. This ultimately left him last in the timing screens, as all other nineteen drivers set lap times.

Romain Grosjean was an encouraging fourth for the Lotus F1 Team, albeit 1.419s slower than the outright pace, with the Frenchman just ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr, the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver continuing his impressive start to his Formula 1 career in fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest for Infiniti Red Bull Racing, ahead of the second Toro Rosso of seventeen-year-old Max Verstappen, while Valtteri Bottas was eighth on his return to the cockpit of his Williams Martini Racing machine after being forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix due to a back injury.

The second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat was ninth, with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson rounding out the top ten, just ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa, while the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado was twelfth.

Sauber third driver Raffaele Marciello was thirteenth fastest in his first free practice session for the team after taking over the car from Felipe Nasr, who will return to the car for the second session and the rest of the weekend.

Fernando Alonso was fourteenth on his return to the McLaren-Honda team, 2.761s slower than the pace of Rosberg up front, but ahead of the two Sahara Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, and ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, who was down in seventeenth.

After missing out on any running in Australia, both Manor F1 Team drivers managed to get some track time on Friday morning, although Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were 6.562s and 7.559s adrift of the outright pace, with the 107% rule likely to come into play if they cannot improve significantly.

Nico Rosberg was untouchable in FP1 (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)
Nico Rosberg was untouchable in FP1 (Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd)

2015 Australian Grand Prix Free Practice 1 Times

16Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m40.124s
27Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m40.497s
35Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m40.985s
48Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m41.543s
555Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m41.596s
63Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m41.787s
733Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m41.803s
877Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m41.882s
926Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m42.055s
109Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m42.064s
1119Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m42.103s
1213Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m42.567s
1336Raffaele MarcielloITASauber-Ferrari1m42.621s
1414Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m42.885s
1527Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m42.893s
1611Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m43.054s
1722Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m43.100s
1828Will StevensGBRManor-Ferrari1m46.686s
1998Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari1m47.683s
2044Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedesNo Time