Rosberg kickstarts 2015 season by topping FP1 in Australia

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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.

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.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).