Nico Rosberg set the fastest lap time to finish Free Practice 1 on top of the time sheets at the Malaysian Grand Prix for Mercedes AMG PETRONAS at their home Grand Prix.
The German set an early lap of 1:35.793 to put himself on the top, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton closely behind in second. He then finished the session with an improved time of 1:35.227, which enabled him to finish 0.494 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Rosberg’s earlier time was set after the session resumed from a red flag, as it was deemed unsafe in the pit lane after the Renault of Kevin Magnussen burst into flames just outside their garage. The Dane was lucky to jump out of the car before anything dramatically happened, and his team were able to keep the fire under control by using fire extinguishers whenever flames appeared on the car.
The remaining fuel was extracted by the team outside their garage with mechanics in fire suits, but luckily no one was injured, but the session was red flagged as a safety precaution, with the session halted for fifteen minutes. It is not clear what exactly happened, but the Enstone team are still investigating the problem, with Renault hoping to rebuild the car and figure out the problem so Magnussen is able to return to track for Free Practice 2.
Behind Hamilton was the first Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who managed to finish the session ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel by only 0.016 seconds in fourth. Fernando Alonso had a strong pace and performance for McLaren-Honda as he finished the session in fifth with a time of 1:36.510, with the Spaniard testing the updated Honda power unit.
There is a massive improvement here from the Woking based outfit as the Spaniard finishes 1.103 seconds ahead of team-mate Jenson Button who has the older Honda engine at his disposal. Alonso managed to finish the session ahead of Red Bull Racing, with the first Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo finishing in sixth. Max Verstappen was closely behind his team-mate, only 0.220 seconds back in seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg managed to finish the session eighth, just ahead of Sahara Force India team-mate Sergio Perez, while Button managed to complete the top ten at the Sepang International Circuit for McLaren, setting a fastest lap time of 1:37.613.
Daniil Kvyat was able to set a fastest lap of 1:37.847 to finish the session eleventh ahead of the first Williams Martini Racing of Valtteri Bottas, while the Haas F1 Team looked promising with their pace during the first practice session with Romain Grosjean finishing in thirteenth with a time of 1:37.886, 0.035 seconds ahead of team-mate Esteban Gutierrez.
Finishing in fifteenth was the second Scuderia Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr with a time of 1:38.055, ahead of the first Sauber of Felipe Nasr who finished 0.129 seconds ahead of team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Behind the Sauber duo was the second Williams of Felipe Massa, who set a fastest lap time of 1:38.339, with Jolyon Palmer nineteenth for Renault. With all the problems with Magnussen’s car, there was some worry it might occur on Palmer’s as well, but this was not the case and he was able to continue and set a fastest lap of 1:39.148.
Esteban Ocon finished in twentieth for Manor Racing with a time of 1:40.036, ahead of team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, who earlier in the session looked strong. The German was unable to continue this performance in the later stages of the session with everyone around him improving their times, while Magnussen’s issues meant he was unable to set a time and ended right at the bottom of the results.
Sepang International Circuit Free Practice 1
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