Rosberg fastest as Mercedes dominates FP1

© XPB 

Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of a first practice session for the Russian Grand Prix which saw many drivers spin.

The low grip conditions at the Sochi Autodrom on Friday morning caught out Sebastian Vettel on two occasions, while Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Daniil Kvyat also had spins but all avoided damage.

With many teams opting for a majority of supersoft tyres for the race weekend - with a one-stop predicted - the softest compound was immediately in use during FP1. Some early laps on soft tyres gave way to supersofts for Rosberg and he duly set the fastest time with a 1:38.127.

Hamilton was second quickest but almost three quarters of a second slower than his team-mate having spun early in the session. On one of his opening runs, Hamilton lost the rear of his car at Turn 2 and quickly swapped ends, but had plenty of run-off area in which to recover.

Vettel was third quickest but was clearly struggling in the first hour of the session as he spun at Turn 15 - following Button who had already done the same - and then a few moments later also spun at the penultimate corner. Eventually Vettel did get a lap together and was 0.3s adrift of Hamilton but over a second slower than Rosberg. Encouragingly for Ferrari, however, the Scuderia only ran soft tyres during FP1 having brought six sets to Sochi compared to four for each Mercedes driver.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was less than 0.2s off Vettel's best time, with Felipe Massa fifth for Williams - 0.027s further back - despite being confined to the garage for much of the first hour with a clutch problem.

Red Bull debuted the Aeroscreen cockpit protection device on Daniel Ricciardo's car during his installation lap, with the Australian sixth quickest after removing the screen. Team-mate Daniil Kvyat was eighth but followed Vettel's lead in spinning at the penultimate corner, almost completing another spin as he extravagantly rejoined the track.

As well as Button and Vettel, Jolyon Palmer swapped ends at Turn 15 during what was another difficult session for the rookie. Palmer was 18th quickest at the chequered flag, five places and 0.8s adrift of Russian test driver Sergey Sirotkin who was making his Renault debut in FP1.

Another replacement driver for the first session was Alfonso Celis, with the Mexican taking over at Force India in place of Sergio Perez. Despite setting his best time on supersofts, Celis was slowest of all 22 runners, 0.8s slower than Rio Haryanto who completed just eight laps for Manor due to a reliability issue.

AS IT HAPPENED: Russian Grand Prix - FP1

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Chris Medland's 2016 Russian Grand Prix preview

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Pos Driver Team Time Laps
01 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.127 32
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.949 31
03 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.175 19
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.332 18
05 Felipe Massa Williams 1:39.365 14
06 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.650 24
07 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:39.802 24
08 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:40.218 26
09 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.287 22
10 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:40.654 21
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:40.663 19
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:40.771 18
13 Sergey Sirotkin Renault 1:40.898 24
14 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:41.085 21
15 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:41.134 22
16 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:41.238 18
17 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:41.385 20
18 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.671 25
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:41.962 22
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:42.483 21
21 Rio Haryanto Manor 1:42.687 8
22 Alfonso Celis Force India 1:43.432 23