Rosberg tops opening practice as Hamilton hits trouble

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Nico Rosberg was fastest in opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton stopped out on track.

Rosberg posted a lap of 1:40.561 early in the 90-minute long session to establish himself at the top of the timesheets, before lowering the benchmark to a 1:40.124 on a second set of the medium Pirelli tyres.

Reigning world champion Hamilton failed to set a time as he was forced to stop out on track at Turn 10 with an engine problem after just four laps.

The two Ferraris ended the morning second and third, Kimi Raikkonen three-tenths shy of Rosberg’s fastest time, but half a second clear of new team-mate Sebastian Vettel, as the pair improved with late runs on the medium Pirellis.

Romain Grosjean ended the morning fourth in the Mercedes-powered Lotus, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. in fifth for Toro Rosso.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was sixth, while Max Verstappen ensured both Toro Rossos ended first practice in the top seven.

Valtteri Bottas was eighth on his return for Williams, while Daniil Kvyat and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top ten for Red Bull and Sauber.

Felipe Massa was 11th for Williams, half a second clear of Pastor Maldonado in the second Lotus.

GP2 racer Raffaele Marciello managed 13th on his first practice run for Sauber, ahead of the returning Fernando Alonso, who was some 2.7s off the pace in the McLaren-Honda.

The two Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were 16th and 17th, with Jenson Button down in 17th for McLaren.

The Manor team completed its first official laps in 2015 as Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi both ventured out early in the session.

Stevens clocked a 1:47.683 on his second timed run to finish 18th, within 107 per cent of Rosberg’s session topping time, but Merhi was half a second shy of the German’s target after spending most of the session confined to the garage.

This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

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