Nico Rosberg became the first driver to top a Formula One session in Russia this morning after beating Hamilton to the top spot. In yet another Mercedes 1-2, Rosberg completed a 1:42:311 on his way to the top spot, but only six hundredths seconds faster than his championship rival.
For the Russian Grand Prix weekend, Marussia have chosen not to run a second car and replace the injured Jules Bianchi. It was always going to be a tough decision for the team whether they will replace Jules following his crash in Japan were he sustained critical injuries. But in the end chose not to give Alex Rossi his F1 race debut, and leave the car in the garage as a sign of respect for Bianchi.
There were some driver changes elsewhere in the paddock for FP1, with Sergey Sirotkin making his Formula One Grand Prix weekend debut for Sauber in replace of Esteban Gutierrez. Like Kyvat, the Russian Grand Prix is Sirotkin’s home race and the team have provided the young Russian with a fitting track for his debut. Also hitting the track just for FP1 was Roberto Merhi who again replaced Kobayashi for the session.
Come 10AM local time, the green light at the end of the pit lane flicked on and the first Formula One session in Russia was underway. Fernando Alonso led the field onto the Sochi Autodrom as the installation laps began.
Once 19 of the 21 drivers had carried out their the installation laps, the Mercedes hit the track. Unlike the rest of the field the Silver Arrows did not just hit the track for their installation laps, they went straight into a timed lap. However with the low levels of grip and the heavy amount of dust, their laps were scruffy and would soon be comprehensively beaten. But in the meantime, Lewis was wheeled back into his garage as the team investigated a vibration onboard his car.
As the times began to fall, the Mercedes’ began to tumble down the order alongside the Red Bulls. In comparison, McLaren led the session after the first 30 minutes, and held a lead of over a second to Bottas.
Once the teams sent their drivers back out on track, the Mercedes were making their way back to the top. During the break in proceedings, the team resolved Hamilton’s brake issue which was causing a vibration. Although it wasn’t enough for Lewis to get the better of Rosberg, as the German set the new fastest lap.
It did not come instantly for Nico on return to the track, but after a handful of flyers, he made his way comfortably ahead of Button. For the German he managed to edge closer on the early flying laps, but now the track had rubbered in more, he was able to find the extra time he had lost. As for Hamilton, he was having to settle for second. But clearly to his displeasure after he begs the team to allow him to do one more flying lap at the end of the run. However due to time restrictions on his later long run, the team refused Lewis’ request and he returned to the garage.
Although at least Hamilton would be able to carry out a long run at the end of the session, unlike Valtteri Bottas who was forced into ending his session early due to a tyre blanket. An odd cause for a session to end, but for Bottas a tyre blanket over heated and damaged the set of tyres Valtteri was about to use.
So after 90 minutes of Formula One action in Russia, Mercedes continue their dominance in 2014. McLaren looked like they could challenge the top order this weekend after Button secured P3 and Magnussen secured P5. As for Ferrari, they could have a mixed weekend after having one driver in the top 5, but Kimi ended the session half a second down on Alonso. Williams and Red Bull both looked unimpressive in the first practice session, with neither team managing to post a top 10 time.
|6||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:43.129||0.818|
|12||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:43.821||1.510|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:43.976||1.665|
|14||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:44.506||2.195|