Rosberg top in practice one as Vettel stops on track

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg topped the opening practice session of the weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was last after suspected gearbox problems.

Rosberg finished the session fastest with a time of 1m10.401s, three tenths clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The German set the pace early on with his first set of soft-compound Pirelli tyres to initially go more than a second faster than team-mate Hamilton.

Rosberg failed to improve on his early pace for the remainder of the session but his initial fastest time was enough to stay top. Hamilton did close the gap to 0.308s but could have been closer to his rival had he not locked up at turn 1.

Kimi Raikkonen finished the session third more than three tenths down on Hamilton but was four tenths clear of the chasing pack headed by Valtteri Bottas in fourth.

Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate Vettel had a session to forget after he ground to a halt on his fifth lap with suspected gearbox problems.

His car was returned to the pits but he was unable to return to the track, leaving him without any serious running and down in 20th behind Manor drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

Felipe Nasr finished fifth ahead of Red Bull duo Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. Max Verstappen was eighth ahead of Felipe Massa in ninth who suffered a scary moment in the pit-lane with Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

Massa, who had just been released from his pit box, almost made contact with Arrivabene as he was crossing the road from the pitwall. Fortunately Arrivabene was able to jump out of the way while Massa brought his Williams to a swift halt.

Segio Perez rounded out the top 10 ahead of Carlos Sainz, Pastor Maldonado and Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg.

Jolyon Palmer, who was taking over from Romain Grosjean for FP1, was 14th, only a fraction behind Hulkenberg and Maldonado.

It was another tough session for McLaren though. Jenson Button finished in 16th place while team-mate Fernando Alonso was forced to shut the engine down on his installation lap, and didn’t re-appear from the garage until the closing stages of the session where he completed nine laps to finish 17th.