Rosberg tops opening practice in Austria

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Nico Rosberg marked Formula One’s return to Austria with fastest during opening practice at the Red Bull Ring for Mercedes.

Rosberg shot to the top of the time sheets 50 minutes into the opening session of the weekend, with a best lap of 1:11.295, with his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, as has been the case for much of the season, his nearest challenger, the 2008 champion just a tenth shy of the German’s best time.

Fernando Alonso rounded out the top three for Ferrari, ahead of the two Mercedes-powered cars of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, in the leading Williams and McLaren respectively, the last drivers to clear the 1m12 barrier.

Sergio Perez, who along with Massa will face the stewards this afternoon for a second investigation into the pair’s final lap crash in Canada, was sixth, one spot ahead of his Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, while Valtteri Bottas was eighth in the second Williams.

Kevin Magnussen was ninth for McLaren, making it all eight of the Mercedes-powered runners in the top nine, Alonso’s Ferrari the sole exception in third.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the best of the Renault-powered cars in tenth for Toro Rosso, a mere thousandth of a second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who like Nico Rosberg tested a titanium skid plate in an effort to produce sparks early in the session.

The two Red Bull’s failed to impress on their first foray at their home circuit, Canada race winner Daniel Ricciardo just 13th, a second down on Rosberg’s session topping time, while Sebastian Vettel was 15th and fortunate to keep the sister car out of the wall following a 720 degree spin after running wide at the final corner.

Lotus’ struggles continued with Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado 16th and 17th, the Venezuelan just a tenth faster than Jules Bianchi in the lead Marussia.

Chilton was 19th, within a tenth of his team-mate, while Adrian Sutil was 21st, sandwiched between the two Caterhams.

Free Practice One – Classification

1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:11.295 – 19 laps

2. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 1:11.435  +0.140 – 32 laps

3. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari – 1:11.606  +0.311 – 23 laps

4. Felipe Massa – Williams-Mercedes – 1:11.756  +0.461 – 27 laps

5. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:11.839  +0.544 – 33 laps

6. Sergio Perez – Force India-Mercedes – 1:12.009  +0.714 – 33 laps

7. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India-Mercedes – 1:12.072  +0.777 – 20 laps

8. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Mercedes – 1:12.114  +0.819 – 21 laps

9. Kevin Magnussen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:12.313  +1.018 – 36 laps

10. Jean-Eric Vergne – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:12.364  +1.069 – 30 laps

11. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:12.365  +1.070 – 21 laps

12. Daniil Kvyat – Toro Rosso-Renault – 1:12.372  +1.077 – 35 laps

13. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull-Renault – 1:12.570  +1.275 – 28 laps

14. Esteban Gutierrez – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:12.984  +1.689 – 19 laps

15. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault – 1:12.988  +1.693 – 25 laps

16. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault – 1:13.168  +1.873 – 28 laps

17. Pastor Maldonado – Lotus-Renault – 1:13.642  +2.347 – 27 laps

18. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:13.738  +2.443 – 26 laps

19. Max Chilton – Marussia-Ferrari – 1:13.857  +2.562 – 28 laps

20. Kamui Kobayashi – Caterham-Renault – 1:14.611  +3.316 – 24 laps

21. Adrian Sutil – Sauber-Ferrari – 1:14.691  +3.396 – 9 laps

22. Marcus Ericsson – Caterham-Renault – 1:17.501  +6.206 – 8 laps

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

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