Rosberg leads Hamilton in opening Bahrain GP practice

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Nico Rosberg picked up where he left off in Australia two weeks ago to set the pace in opening practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Friday.

Rosberg kicked off the 2016 Formula 1 season with victory in Melbourne, and arrives in Bahrain chasing a fifth consecutive grand prix win.

The German driver began his weekend in impressive fashion by finishing half a second clear of the field at the Bahrain International Circuit, leading Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in second place.

Mercedes was the only team to complete fast laps in FP1, with most opting to wait until the night-time second practice session when conditions will be more representative of qualifying and the race.

Rosberg’s late run saw him post a lap time of 1:32.294, with Hamilton going half a second slower soon after his teammate.

Kimi Raikkonen finished the session in third place for Ferrari, 1.8 seconds down on Rosberg’s time, while Daniel Ricciardo edge out Red Bull teammate Daniil Kvyat to take fourth at the checkered flag.

Nico Hulkenberg ended FP1 in sixth place ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Max Verstappen, while Haas’ Romain Grosjean and Williams’ Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10.

McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne’s maiden F1 practice session saw him finish 18th as he got plenty of laps under his belt ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday.

FP1 also saw Force India reserve Alfonso Celis Jr. enjoy his first run-out on a grand prix weekend. The Mexican driver deputized for Sergio Perez, ending the session in P21.