Barcelona Practice 1: Hamilton quickest with ease

Race favourite Lewis Hamilton set the pace for dominant Mercedes in first Spanish Grand Prix practice on Friday while the pain remained the same for Sebastian Vettel despite a Red Bull chassis switch.

Hamilton’s fastest lap of 1:27.023 seconds, set six minutes from the end, was 0.868 quicker than Jenson Button who was best of the rest, for McLaren.

The impressive margin on a sunny morning at the Circuit de Catalunya further underlined the Briton’s status as the man to watch after three consecutive wins.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg, who is four points clear of team mate Hamilton and who had said on Thursday that he “just needed a normal weekend” to regain the momentum, suffered a cooling issue that cut short his session. He was fifth fastest.

Sebastian Vettel

Quadruple world champion Vettel, who had a miserable pre-season test in Spain and has had a difficult four grands prix since then, kicked off the first European race weekend of the year with another setback.

The German, winner of the last nine races of 2013, was using a different chassis to the one raced so far but he completed just four laps before pulling over with an electrical problem.

Marshals handed him a fire extinguisher as he inspected the car before hitching a ride back to the paddock on a scooter.

“We had a full electrical shutdown on Seb’s car. We’re not sure what caused it. It cut the radio and everything,” said Team Principal Christian Horner.

Although the car was returned to the pits, the problem prevented Vettel from taking any further part in the morning session.

Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday 9 May 2014.

His Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who has out qualified Vettel in three of the four races and passed him in the last two after the German was instructed to let the faster car through, was third fastest.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, the local favourite for his home race after winning last year with plenty of banners in the grandstand urging him on, was fourth on the time sheets.

With the opening long-haul races in Asia and the Middle East out of the way, all teams have brought updates to their cars and Friday’s practice sessions were being closely watched for any signs of change in the pecking order.

In a bizarre early incident, a wing mirror on Sergio Perez’s Force India broke off and was left flapping around on a wire. The Mexican completed the lap with it in his hand. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

Spanish Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 9 May 2014
Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:27.023 17
2 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.891 0.868 26
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:27.973 0.950 21
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:28.128 1.105 23
5 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:28.168 1.145 9
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:28.337 1.314 19
7 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:28.423 1.400 27
8 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:28.744 1.721 34
9 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:28.779 1.756 18
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:28.791 1.768 13
11 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:28.792 1.769 24
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:28.828 1.805 17
13 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:28.859 1.836 24
14 40 Felipe Nasr Williams-Mercedes 1:29.272 2.249 15
15 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:29.688 2.665 16
16 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:29.820 2.797 22
17 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:29.944 2.921 21
18 36 Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1:30.440 3.417 22
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:30.748 3.725 19
20 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:30.942 3.919 4
21 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:30.997 3.974 22
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:31.421 4.398 22