Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg topped the times during free practice one at the Red Bull Ring in Austria with Lewis Hamilton following him home during the opening session of the weekend on Friday. Rosberg finished the session with a comfortable gap over teammate Hamilton. Both drivers have new power units in the cars for this weekend. Hamilton is already on his fifth new power unit of the season; this means if he needed another change it would bring an automatic grid penalty. Rosberg set the pace during the session with a lap time of 1:07.373 using Ultrasoft Pirelli compound tyres. This was the first time the tyres had been used on a non-street circuit as they race around the Red Bull Ring track this weekend. The German had a 0.357 second gap back to teammate Hamilton. Hamilton had a spin at turn three during the practice session and was narrowly missed by Romain Grosjean who also spun as the Brit began to slide back onto the track into Grosjean’s path. Rosberg also had an off at the same corner.

Behind the Mercedes AMG Petronas duo came the pair of Scuderia Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, although both drivers were unable to get within six tenths of Rosberg’s time. Sebastian Vettle was 0.649 seconds off Rosberg’s lap time with teammate Raikkonen a further 0.200 seconds in fourth place.

Next up was Daniel Ricciardo finishing the session in fifth place, the first of the Red Bull Racing entries but his time was more than a second off of Rosberg’s. He was also another driver to have an off track excursion during the opening practice session. His best lap time was set on the Supersoft Pirelli tyre whereas Rosberg’s chose Ultrasofts.

Sixth place in the session was Scuderia Torro Ross driver Carlos Sainz Jr ahead of the leading Williams Martini Racing entrant Felipe Massa in seventh. The second of the Red Bull Racing entries was Max Verstappen in eighth place. The Dutchman had a lot of bad luck strike during the session, he broke an end-plate of his front wing after striking the kerbs at turn eighth of the circuit. He then went on to damage his steering after hitting kerbs again at turn six, this forced his session to end in the gravel trap.

Daniil Kyvat finished the session in ninth place in the second Torro Rosso entered cars ahead of the second Williams car of Valtteri Bottas in tenth. Earlier spinner Romain Grosjean finished in eleventh ahead of Sahara Force India driver Nico Hülkenburg. The pair of McLaren-Honda drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso finished in thirteenth and fourteenth with both about two seconds slower than Rosberg’s time.

Kevin Magnussen was the best place Renault Sport F1 drivers in fifteenth ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor Racing car. Jolyon Palmer was just behind in seventeenth in the second Renault Sport F1 entry. Sauber F1 driver Marcus Ericsson cost Daniel Ricciardo some time when he got himself sideways as he tried to stay out of the way as he was bound for the pit lane, he crossed the white line as he tried to stay out of the way which put the Swede under investigation from the stewards at the circuit. Ericsson ended the session in eighteenth ahead of Haas driver Esteban Futierrez in nineteenth and Sauber teammate Felipe Nasr finished in twentieth. Manor Mercedes driver Rio Haryanto was next up in twenty-first with Force India’s reserve driver Alfonso Celis Jr in twenty-second as he stepped in for Sergio Perez for the session.

The finishing times and positions were as follows:

  1. Nico Rosberg                     1:07.373
  2. Lewis Hamilton                1:07.730
  3. Sebastian Vettel               1:08.022
  4. Kimi Raikkonen                1:08.222
  5. Daniel Ricciardo               1:08.528
  6. Carlos Sainz Jr                   1:08.803
  7. Felipe Massa                      1:08.824
  8. Max Verstappen               1:08.962
  9. Daniil Kyvat                       1:08.990
  10. Valtteri Bottas                  1:08.998
  11. Romain Grosjean             1:09.078
  12. Niko Hulkenberg             1:09.280
  13. Jenson Button                   1:09.365
  14. Fernando Alonso             1:09.567
  15. Kevin Magnussen            1:09.707
  16. Pascal Wehrlein               1:09.775
  17. Jolyon Palmer                   1:09.851
  18. Marcus Ericsson               1:09.929
  19. Esteban Gutierrez            1:10.110
  20. Felipe Nasr                         1:10.314
  21. Rio Haryanto                      1:10.493
  22. Alfonso Celis Jr                  1:10.860


©Fay Tilley 3rd June 2016.