- Austrian GP - FP1
Rosberg tops eventful first practice at Red Bull Ring
Nico Rosberg topped an eventful first practice session for the Austrian Grand Prix as Formula One cars returned to action outside the small village of Spielberg for the first time in 11 years.
Unsurprisingly, Rosberg led a Mercedes one-two, with Lewis Hamilton 0.140s off his team-mate despite setting the fastest times in sectors one and three. Fernando Alonso was third fastest, 0.311s off Rosberg, but after Ferrari flattered to deceive during FP1 in Canada it is still too early to make any predictions beyond Mercedes' likely dominance.
Williams' Felipe Massa was fourth fastest ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button and the Force India's of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. With Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen in eighth and ninth, all the Mercedes-powered cars featured in the top ten on a lap that is over 50% full throttle.
Spots of rain in the second half of the session helped to liven things as a few drivers got caught out as grip levels reduced, although the weather briefly nullified running as teams thought twice about risking an accident. Sebastian Vettel came closest to the barriers when he ran wide coming out of the final corner and pitched his Red Bull into a spin as he crossed the grass. Fortunately, the trajectory of his spin was parallel to the pit straight barrier and he sustained no serious damage, but it acted as proof that this latest iteration of the Spielberg circuit still has the potential to bite back. Vettel ended the session 15th as Red Bull appeared to struggle for pace at its home track.
Soon after Vettel's spin a number of cars ran wide at various parts of the circuit, with Turn 1 proving the most popular location. Daniel Ricciardo nearly followed in Vettel's skidmarks on the exit of the final corner but managed to hold the slide as he recovered from the grass back onto the circuit. Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado both had trips through the gravel at Turn 3 and the run off at Rindt (Turn 8) also saw plenty of action.
Kimi Raikkonen finished the session 11th and was a second off the pace, but spent some time with the engine covers off his Ferrari. He made it back out on track, but Adrian Sutil had a more terminal issue with his Ferrari engine's turbo, completing just nine laps. Marcus Ericsson was the only driver to complete less with a problem with his Caterham limiting him to just eight laps.