Sochi, FP1 : Rosberg quickest as Russian GP practice gets underway

Rosberg comfortably set the pace during Friday morning’s first practice

By Franck Drui

29 April 2016 - 10:35
Sochi, FP1 : Rosberg quickest as (...)

Nico Rosberg went quickest in opening practice for the Russian Grand Prix, finishing eight tenths of a second ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton on a morning when many drivers were caught out by the conditions at Sochi Autodrom.

The low grip on offer at the start of weekend was no respecter of seniority, with champions Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel all having spins during the session, though all avoided any damage.

Meanwhile, championship leader Rosberg had an untroubled morning. The German began his outing on the soft Pirelli compound before soon after switching to the supersoft tyre.

The quicker red-banded tyres had an immediate effect and he vaulted to the top of the order with a time of 1:38.127.

The time would remain unchallenged for the remainder of the session. A spin for Hamilton early possibly derailed his chances of toppling his team-mate and the Briton ended the session eight tenths adrift of his main title rival with a lap of 1:38.949.

The two Mercedes men were the only drivers to dip below the 1m39s during the session.

Vettel got closest, though the four-time champion also suffered two spins during the session – first at Turn 15 and then later in the session at Turn 17. The Ferrari driver eventually found a rhythm, however, and he set the morning’s third quickest time, 1:39.175. That left him 0.3s adrift of Hamilton but over a second slower than Rosberg.

The deficit was encouraging for Ferrari, however, as the team chose to run only on the soft tyre during the session.

Fourth place in the session went to Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari. The Finn ended the session 0.2s behind Vettel but just under three hundredths of a second clear of Williams’ Felipe Massa, who spent much of the session in the garage while the team fixed a clutch issue on his car.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo opened his testing in Russia by testing the team’s new ‘Aeroscreen’ head protection system and once the screen had been removed the Australian went on to set the morning’s sixth fastest time.

He was followed by Valtteri Bottas in the second Williams, Daniil Kvyat in the second Red Bull, Force India’s Sergio Perez and tenth-placed Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso.

Sainz was followed by the twin McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso respectively and in P13 was young Russian tester Sergey Sirotkin who took over at Renault in place of Kevin Magnussen for the session. One other tester driver got track time during the session, with Alfonso Celis standing in for Nico Hulkenberg at Force India. The young Mexican finished the session in P22.

01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG 1:38.127 32
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG 1:38.949 31
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.175 19
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.332 18
05 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes 1:39.365 14
06 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:39.650 24
07 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:39.802 24
08 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Tag Heuer 1:40.218 26
09 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:40.287 22
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:40.654 21
11 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:40.663 19
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:40.771 18
13 Sergey Sirotkin Renault F1 1:40.898 24
14 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari 1:41.085 21
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:41.134 22
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas Ferrari 1:41.238 18
17 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:41.385 20
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault F1 1:41.671 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:41.962 22
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes 1:42.483 21
21 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes 1:42.687 8
22 Alfonso Celis Force India Mercedes 1:43.432 23


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