Nico Rosberg has finished fastest in the opening practice session for this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:11.295 to finish 0.140s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, as the Silver Arrows once again completed a one-two at the top of the timesheets.
FP1 acted as the first opportunity for many of the drivers to get to grips with the Red Bull Ring, given that just four have raced here in F1 before and only a further five have in junior categories.
Most of the teams opted to prioritize track time for their drivers to give them as much time as possible to learn the circuit, and many ran wide and made mistakes.
For this session, Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari and Rosberg’s Mercedes were both fitted with skid blocks in order to produce sparks – the latest idea intended to improve the show. The German’s Silver Arrow certainly gave off some sparks heading down the main straight, but otherwise it was not overly noticeable.
In the first thirty minutes, all of the drivers headed out to post a time using their ‘free’ set of Pirelli tires. Lewis Hamilton set the early pace with a lap of 1:12.255, with Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg lying just a tenth further back.
Marcus Ericsson’s session came to an early end, though, after his car came to a halt on the exit of the first corner. Adrian Sutil was also sidelined due to a broken hose which affected the turbo on his car.
Rosberg ascended to the top of the timesheets at the halfway point in the session with his fastest lap. Jenson Button, Kevin Magnussen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso all looked to challenge him, moving up into the top three, but the task eventually fell to Lewis Hamilton. He moved to within two-tenths of his teammate with twenty minutes to go.
Sebastian Vettel was very lucky not to end his session in the wall, having spun at the final corner. His Red Bull performed a 720º spin and narrowly avoided the barrier, meaning that he was able to continue.
Spots of rain began to fall in the final stages of the session, preventing the drivers from improving their times late on. As a result, Rosberg closed out first practice on top ahead of his teammate, with Alonso, Massa and Button completing the top five. For Red Bull, all hopes of continuing its form from Canada appeared to be dashed with Daniel Ricciardo finishing thirteenth, and Vettel finishing fifteenth.
Rosberg will be hoping to continue this form in FP2, which is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET today. Click here for more information on NBC’s broadcasting of the Austrian Grand Prix.