Rosberg fastest after first practice session in Russia


Nico Rosberg set the fastest time during the first practice session for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.065s with a time of 1:42.311. The new track proved to be a tricky challenge with Turn 2 and Turn 13 catching a number of drivers out over the course of the session. Turn 3 is an impressive sweeping left hander and the high-speed back straight ends with a tricky braking zone into Turn 13. It was no surprise to see both Mercedes drivers on top, but Jenson Button's McLaren was just 0.196s off the pace in third. But even Button's session did not pass without incident as he had a spin at Turn 8. Fernando Alonso set his usual Friday morning quick lap with the fourth fastest time, 0.409s off Rosberg and head of the second McLaren of Kevin Magnussen. Sergio Perez was sixth fastest after setting an impressive time in the Force India, while Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso managed to finish the session seventh in front of his home fans. Kimi Raikkonen, Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten, although the Williams driver was limited to just nine laps after his tyre blankets malfunctioned and overcooked his second set of tyres for the session. As is usual for Friday practice, the two Williams were a little off the pace but are likely to be in the mix for the second row of the grid come Saturday's qualifying session. Red Bull also appeared to be off the pace with Daniel Ricciardo 12th fastest and Sebastian Vettel down in 14th and 2.195s off the pace. Although it is not necessarily a track that plays to the strengths of the Red Bull, both cars will likely be back at the sharp end when the running becomes competitive on Saturday. Sergey Sirotkin made his grand prix debut on home turf in the Sauber as his development deal with the team continues. He stepped in for Esteban Gutierrez and set a respectable time 0.4s off team-mate Adrian Sutil. Roberto Merhi also got an FP1 drive in Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham, and despite a couple of spins still managed to beat the team's other race driver Marcus Ericsson by a couple of tenths. Max Chilton finished the session in 21st in the sole Marussia taking part in this weekend's grand prix. Jules Bianchi's car sat prepped in the Marussia garage but the team will not run it out of respect for the Frenchman, who remains in a critical condition following his accident at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.