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FP1 - Rosberg edges Hamilton in opening Suzuka session

07 Oct 2016

Mercedes were at their dominant best as practice got underway in Japan on Friday morning, with world championship leader Nico Rosberg lapping two tenths of a second quicker than team mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton.


Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 1:32.431 24
2 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:32.646 +0.215s 21
3 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:33.525 +1.094s 19
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:33.817 +1.386s 17
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing 1:34.112 +1.681s 23
6 33 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:34.379 +1.948s 26
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 1:34.530 +2.099s 28
8 11 Sergio Perez PER Force India 1:34.767 +2.336s 30
9 14 Fernando Alonso ALO McLaren 1:35.003 +2.572s 10
10 77 Valtteri Bottas BOT Williams 1:35.381 +2.950s 31

Ferrari were the Silver Arrows’ closest challengers, but Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were over a second off the pace in third and fourth, with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen - who opted not to use the yellow-marked soft tyre - several tenths further back.

The top ten was completed by the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, the McLaren of Fernando Alonso – who suffered an early off at Spoon Curve – and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.

Alonso wasn’t the only driver to test the Suzuka barriers – Romain Grosjean also went off, nosing his Haas in the tyres at Degner after a big lock-up. 

Mercedes stayed out of the walls, but it wasn't all plain sailing - Hamilton complained about 'low power' early on, while Rosberg suffered with 'monster understeer' and later reported some engine cuts. 

Red Bull too had complaints - Verstappen said the upshifts on his RB12 were "like a handbrake" early on, while both he and Ricciardo struggled with the handling of the RB12 as they focused on hard and medium tyre runs. Even so, the pair wound up fifth and sixth - Ricciardo had the upper hand by the measure of a few tenths of a second.

Verstappen was the last man to get within 2s of Rosberg's benchmark - Hulkenberg in seventh was 2.099s down, with Perez a few tenths down the road. Alonso was a similar gap behind the Mexican, although like Red Bull he too opted not to use the softs.

Valtteri Bottas locked out 10th for Williams and was the morning's busiest driver with 31 laps on the board. At the other end of the scale, Renault's Jolyon Palmer was limited to 13 as electrical problems brought his morning to a slightly early halt.

WATCH: Early spin puts Alonso into the barriers