Picking up where Mercedes left off at the end of 2014, Nico Rosberg has finished fastest in the first practice session for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, heading up a Silver Arrows one-two on Friday ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The German driver posted a fastest lap time of 1:29.557 to finish just 0.029 seconds clear of Hamilton at the top of the timesheets in a rather quiet start to the 2015 F1 season.
Most of the teams opted for limited running, opting to ensure that all of the systems were working properly ahead of FP2 on Friday afternoon instead of completing any extensive mileage in the first session.
Just as it had done in winter testing, Mercedes gapped the field by over one second, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas slotting into third place in the final standings. Toro Rosso’s all-rookie line-up of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen took advantage of their first session in 2015 to complete 60 laps in total, finishing fourth and sixth respectively.
Sebastian Vettel’s first session as a Ferrari driver saw him finish fifth, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen ending up eighth on the timesheets as the team bids to bounce back from its disastrous 2014 campaign.
However, at the back of the grid, Sauber and Manor were less fortunate. Amid a legal row with ex-reserve driver Giedo van der Garde, Sauber opted not to run in first practice for fear of worsening the situation ahead of the resumption of the court hearing ahead of FP2. To make a statement, both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr sat in their cars for the first half of the session before eventually retiring to their driver rooms.
As expected, Manor was unable to run during first practice after further issues with the cars arose on Friday. It is thought that the team only has one front wing and nose in Melbourne, and sporting director Graeme Lowdon remained coy when asked whether the team would be on track at any point this weekend.
McLaren’s tough start to life with Honda power continued in FP1, with a mechanical issue cutting the team’s session short.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 13, 2015
Otherwise, there was very little else to be gleaned from the first session of the 2015 season. Most of the teams will be looking to complete more extensive and representative running in FP2 later today, but for the time being, it appears that the advantage still lies with Mercedes at the front.
Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Friday, with the session being streamed live here.