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FP1 - Mercedes set the pace in disrupted opening session

15 Apr 2016

World championship leader Nico Rosberg topped a disjointed opening practice session in China on Friday morning, lapping 0.1s quicker than Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton as red flags twice interrupted the action.


Pos. No. Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 1:38.037 16
2 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:38.183 +0.146s 16
3 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:38.665 +0.628s 12
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing 1:39.061 +1.024s 13
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:39.155 +1.118s 11
6 26 Daniil Kvyat KVY Red Bull Racing 1:39.625 +1.588s 14
7 55 Carlos Sainz SAI Toro Rosso 1:39.676 +1.639s 12
8 22 Jenson Button BUT McLaren 1:39.974 +1.937s 11
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 1:40.169 +2.132s 13
10 33 Max Verstappen VER Toro Rosso 1:40.232 +2.195s 13

It was a far from perfect session for the Silver Arrows however with Hamilton suffering two spins and Rosberg finishing the session with an apparent power unit issue.

Ferrari were once again the Silver Arrows’ closest challengers, with Sebastian Vettel going third fastest, just ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

The session was only 25 minutes old when the red flags appeared for the first time, shortly after Felipe Massa had suffered a left-rear tyre issue and spun approaching Turn 6, dragging debris and gravel onto the circuit.

The Brazilian would return to the track later on, only to suffer another left-rear tyre failure, just before Renault Kevin Magnussen suffered a left-rear tyre failure of his own on the back straight, bringing out the red flags for a second time.

Pirelli said that both tyre failures on Massa’s Williams were caused by technical issues, whilst investigations into Magnussen’s failure were ongoing as the session concluded.

Massa was one of two drivers not to set a lap time in the 90 minutes, the other being Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez who completed just two laps before being consigned to the garage with an electrical issue.

The rest of the field were also restricted by the two stoppages, but were at least able to get out for a final eight-minute dash, with the majority of drivers switching onto softs.

Hamilton, who had set the pace after a first run on mediums, was the first man out and duly worked his way down to a 1m 38.183s. Rosberg immediately went faster however, edging Hamilton by 0.146s as a poor middle sector cost the Briton around four tenths.

Vettel used the softs to slot into third, the only other man to get within one second of Rosberg. Raikkonen meanwhile was sandwiched by Ricciardo and Red Bull team mate Daniil Kvyat, with half a second to choose between the trio.

Other notable performances came from Carlos Sainz in seventh for Toro Rosso, and Jenson Button in eighth for McLaren - although the Briton's time came on the supersoft tyre.

Fernando Alonso meanwhile completed 11 laps, apparently without discomfort, en route to 12th overall. He will undergo further FIA medical checks prior to FP2 to determine whether he can continue driving for the remainder of the weekend.