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

Romain Grosjean column: Haas brought back down to earth

Chris Medland's 2016 Russian Grand Prix preview

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01Nico RosbergMercedes1:38.12732
02Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:38.94931
03Sebastian VettelFerrari1:39.17519
04Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1:39.33218
05Felipe MassaWilliams1:39.36514
06Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:39.65024
07Valtteri BottasWilliams1:39.80224
08Daniil KvyatRed Bull1:40.21826
09Sergio PerezForce India1:40.28722
10Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:40.65421
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:40.66319
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:40.77118
13Sergey SirotkinRenault1:40.89824
14Felipe NasrSauber1:41.08521
15Max VerstappenToro Rosso1:41.13422
16Esteban GutierrezHaas1:41.23818
17Romain GrosjeanHaas1:41.38520
18Jolyon PalmerRenault1:41.67125
19Marcus EricssonSauber1:41.96222
20Pascal WehrleinManor1:42.48321
21Rio HaryantoManor1:42.6878
22Alfonso CelisForce India1:43.43223