Nico Rosberg has made the best possible start to his Brazilian Grand Prix race weekend by finishing fastest in the first free practice session at Interlagos on Friday morning.
The German currently trails Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 24 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, but managed to edge out the Briton in FP1 today by two-tenths of a second.
However, the real stand-out performance came from 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who finished the session in sixth place during his practice run-out for Toro Rosso today.
As part of the redevelopment work completed at Interlagos over the past few months, new tarmac has been laid meaning that grip levels were very low. As a result, the track continued to improve and come towards the drivers as more laps were completed, resulting in Rosberg and Hamilton exchanging blows at the top of the timesheets.
Ultimately, it was Rosberg who won out, posting a fastest lap time of 1:12.764 to edge out Hamilton and finish almost one second clear of the non-Mercedes drivers.
The slippery conditions caught out a number of drivers on Friday morning, including Verstappen who went off the track on more than one occasion. The biggest loser was Dani Juncadella, Force India’s reserve driver, who crashed into the wall at turn eight with 30 minutes remaining, bringing out the red flag.
Daniil Kvyat also had a few off-track excursions during the session, but managed to hook up a quick lap in the end to finish the session in an excellent third place ahead of Fernando Alonso. In the sister Toro Rosso, Verstappen finished the session in sixth behind Williams’ Felipe Massa.
Jenson Button’s session lasted barely one lap as his car ground to a halt on the entry to the pit lane, while Esteban Gutierrez also failed to post a lap time due to a problem on his Sauber.
Having topped FP1 though, Rosberg will be hoping to continue this form throughout the rest of the weekend, starting in FP2 on Friday afternoon in Brazil. You can watch the second session live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 11a ET.