Hulkenberg tops farcical FP1 in Russia

© XPB 

Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time of a farcical first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix after a diesel spillage.

With teams keen to get in dry running before predicted rain in the afternoon,  they were greeted by a delay to the opening session. Half an hour of early running was lost due to a diesel spillage between turns 7 and 9 which required a major clean-up operation.

With firemen hosing down the circuit, all of the cars headed out on intermediate or wet tyres for their installation laps when the pit lane opened after 30 minutes, but conditions remained difficult throughout the remaining hour.

The track remained slippery, with a number of drivers running wide at Turn 8 and Kimi Raikkonen sliding off track before spinning at low speed. Towards the end of the session, Felipe Massa also spun at Turn 8 with Lewis Hamilton taking avoiding action behind the Williams, but Hamilton then duly spun off himself at the penultimate corner.

With little running taking place before the final half hour, the McLarens topped the session for a spell before a flurry of late laps saw a reshuffling of the order, with Hulkenberg posting a 1:44.355. That left the Force India just 0.052s clear of Nico Rosberg, who completed a number of early laps in order to carry out practice starts before being warned his clutch was overheating.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest for Ferrari despite being one of a number of drivers to run wide at Turn 8, radioing in on his installation lap to say: "What a mess". Sergio Perez ensured both Force Indias ended FP1 in the top four, with Daniel Ricciardo fifth and Carlos Sainz sixth.

Hamilton was seventh despite his spin, with Valtteri Bottas eighth quickest. Bottas opted for full wet tyres on his installation lap but was caught out by a lack of grip which saw him run wide when trying to return to the pit lane and having to dive back in to the pit entry.

Marcus Ericsson had been first on track when the pit lane opened but his session ended early when he stopped at the pit exit and had to be pushed back to the Sauber garage.

AS IT HAPPENED: Russian Grand Prix FP1

FP1 in Russia delayed by diesel spillage

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01Nico HulkenbergForce India1:44.35511
02Nico RosbergMercedes1:44.40715
03Sebastian VettelFerrari1:44.98615
04Sergio PerezForce India1:45.14611
05Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:45.23310
06Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:45.48813
07Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:45.69110
08Valtteri BottasWilliams1:45.74613
09Max VerstappenToro Rosso1:46.20313
10Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1:46.21516
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:46.23112
12Felipe MassaWilliams1:46.33312
13Felipe NasrSauber1:46.74713
14Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:47.44316
15Pastor MaldonadoLotus1:48.0069
16Daniil KvyatRed Bull1:48.0969
17Jolyon PalmerLotus1:49.0949
18Roberto MerhiManor1:52.99412
19Marcus EricssonSauber1:54.27212
20Will StevensManor1:58.2546