Nico Rosberg kicked off the Austrian Grand Prix weekend in the best possible fashion by topping the opening practice session on Friday morning at the Red Bull Ring.
Rosberg posted a fastest lap time of 1:10.401 to finish three-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets.
First practice in Spielberg resembled something more akin to a pre-season test session as a number of teams ran with new parts, evaluated upgrades and hit trouble with their cars.
Fernando Alonso was the first driver to suffer a problem early in the session when his brand-new Honda engine lost power, forcing him to crawl back to the pits. Although the Spaniard managed to get out later in the session, McLaren teammate Jenson Button also had an issue with his car that forced him to pit.
Ferrari’s hopes of taking the fight to Mercedes this weekend were dealt a blow when Sebastian Vettel suffered a gearbox problem, leaving him at the bottom of the timesheets and on the back foot for the rest of the weekend.
For Mercedes though, it was business as usual at the front with Rosberg and Hamilton leading the way. Kimi Raikkonen kept Ferrari heads up by finishing the session in third place, whilst Williams ran well in the first session as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished third and ninth respectively.
Felipe Nasr made good on his belief that Sauber would fare well in Austria by finishing fifth in FP1, just ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. Max Verstappen finished just behind Toro Rosso’s big brother team in eighth place, whilst Sergio Perez rounded out the top ten.
Be sure to join us for FP2 live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Friday.