Nico Rosberg was the fastest man in first practice ahead of Sunday’s inaugural Russian Grand Prix, edging out Mercedes team-mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by just over 0.1 seconds. The German struggled with oversteer while Hamilton had to contend with a brake change halfway through the 90-minute session, but such was the dominance of the Mercedes car they still secured a customary 1-2.
However, it took the duo most of the morning to overcome the initial pace set by McLaren’s Jenson Button, who sat atop the times for a long while before slipping to 3rd at the chequered flag. The Briton held over a second advantage at one point and failed to improve on his first run best after spinning at turn 8 on his second attempt.
Fernando Alonso was 4th, ahead of the second McLaren of Kevin Magnussen. There was a strong showing for Toro Rosso and Daniil Kvyat on ome turf, the Russian ending the morning 7th with team-mate Jean Eric Vergne 9th, while sister team Red Bull struggled for pace and had to be content with finishing both cars outside the top ten. Williams also found the going tough on the new Sochi Autodrom – located in the Winter Olympic park – when the tyre warming blankets on Valtteri Bottas’ car malfunctioned and melted the Finn’s second set of prime tyres, before he could deploy them in search of a faster time.
Roberto Mehri subbed for Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham while Sergei Sirotkin got his first taste of F1 machinery in place of Esteba Gutierrez at Sauber. Marussia meanwhile will run only one car for Max Chilton this weekend after the awful accident that befell Jules Bianchi in Japan last weekend.
CLASSIFICATION – FP1 – Russian Grand Prix – 10th October 2014