Melbourne FP1: Rosberg heads Mercedes one-two

Rosberg Mercedes Australia

Mercedes dominated the first free practice of the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, with Nico Rosberg edging his world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton to top the timesheets.

German Rosberg, last year’s championship runner-up, rolled out of the garage early to set the fastest lap of 1:29.557 on a glorious day at Albert Park, topping Hamilton by a little under three-tenths of a second.

The first run in Melbourne underlined the reigning world champions’ ominous form at winter testing, even as rival teams struggled.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was the best of the rest, the Finn’s fastest lap almost 1.2 seconds shy of last year’s race winner Rosberg.

Toro Rosso’s two rookies Carlos Sainz and 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who is set to become Formula One’s youngest ever race driver on Sunday, also impressed.

Max+Verstappen

Sainz finished fourth fastest, with Verstappen sixth behind four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, who was making his debut for Ferrari.

Dogged by reliability problems during winter testing, the gloom in the McLaren garage played out on the track as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen, sitting in for Fernando Alonso, finished the slowest of the 15 cars that registered flying lap times.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, the only racer to win last season apart from the two Mercedes drivers, finished 10th fastest and pulled the first spin of the season, the Australian losing control for a brief roll into the grass.

With intrigue still hanging over the Sauber garage after their court battles with dumped Dutchman Giedo van der Garde, none of their cars pulled out onto the track.

Valtteri+Bottas

Van der Garde was at Albert Park, suited up and apparently ready to drive after winning a court case against Sauber to be allowed to drive for the team.

Sauber’s nominated drivers, Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson and Brazilian Felipe Nasr, jumped in the cars but did not head out to the circuit.

Manor Marussia, having only recently emerged from administration, were unable to put either of their cars on the track.

Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park – Friday, Free Practice 1
P Name Team Best Time Laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:29.557 19
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:29.586 19
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:30.748 20
4 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 1:31.014 32
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:31.029 13
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:31.067 31
7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:31.188 19
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:31.310 14
9 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:31.451 22
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:31.570 9
11 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:32.073 18
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:32.247 22
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:32.261 19
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.542 6
15 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:34.785 7
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 2:17.782 5