The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg who heads into this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix with a commanding lead in the championship topped the time sheets in the opening practice session ahead of Sunday’s race, round four of the 2016 season.
The German set a benchmark time of 1m 38.127s completing 32 laps and ending the session ahead of team mate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest completing 19 laps and ending up just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari who completed 18 laps. Despite completing just 14 laps it was a good morning for Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa who ended the session in fifth place just behind Raikkonen and just ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian ran an installation lap with the Milton Keynes based outfit’s canopy solution and speaking following the test he said that the visibility was fine.
Valtteri Bottas ended the session in seventh place just ahead of home favourite Daniil Kvyat while Sahara Force India’s Sergio Perez ended the session in ninth place. Carlos Sainz Jr was the leading Toro Rosso this morning with the Spaniard rounding out the top ten.
It was a great morning session for McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button who ended up in 11th place just ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso.
New Renault test driver Sergery Sirotkin drove in place of Kevin Magnussen this morning and ended the session ahead of team mate Jolyon Palmer in 13th place. The former Sauber F1 Team development driver completed 24 laps for the Enstone outfit ending up just ahead of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber.
Max Verstappen was 15th fastest in the second Toro Rosso while Esteban Gutierrez ended the session in 16th place for the Haas F1 Team just ahead of team mate Romain Grosjean. Marcus Ericsson was 19th for the Sauber F1 Team just ahead of the Manor Racing Team duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto.
Force India’s test and reserve driver Alfonso Celis rounded out the order having driven Nico Hulkenberg’s car this morning and speaking following the session he commented by saying:
I am happy about the work I did today and also about writing a page of Mexican motorsport history together with Sergio and Esteban – with three Mexicans on track. My main priority was to avoid mistakes and complete the programme the team had planned for me. I wanted to take a few more risks compared to Bahrain, but the track conditions were quite tricky and in these circumstances you can’t be selfish – you need to focus and ensure you keep your nose clean. We had a busy programme of aero evaluation and I am happy I was able to deliver the information the team needed.